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Carbon footprinting
An introduction for organisations

01 02 03 04 Introduction What is a carbon footprint? Why calculate a carbon footprint? Calculating a carbon footprint A basic approach to carbon footprinting Producing a full carbon footprint 07 08 Using a footprint for carbon management Glossary

Carbon footprinting


Climate change isincreasingly recognised as a major challenge. It is widely accepted that the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are having a negative impact on the environment.
The most important greenhouse gas, arising from human activity, is carbon dioxide (CO2). Virtually all human activities cause the CO2 emissions that lead to climate change. By using electricity generated from fossil fuel power stations,burning gas for heating or driving a petrol or diesel car, every person is responsible for CO2 emissions. Furthermore every product or service that humans consume indirectly creates CO2 emissions; energy is required for their production, transport and disposal. These products and services may also cause emissions of other greenhouse gases. Understanding and addressing the full range of our impact iscrucial for the effects of climate change to be minimised. The total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organisation, event or product is commonly called their carbon footprint. Establishing the carbon footprint of an organisation can be the first step in a programme to reduce the emissions it causes. This publication is aimed at helping businesses andorganisations establish their carbon impact and introduces some of the key issues faced in the calculation of a carbon footprint.

Virtually all human activities cause the CO2 emissions that lead to climate change.


Carbon footprinting

What is a carbon footprint?
The term carbon footprint is commonly used to describe the total amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissionsfor which an individual or organisation is responsible. Footprints can also be calculated for events or products.
The full footprint of an organisation encompasses a wide range of emissions sources from direct use of fuels to indirect impacts such as employee travel or emissions from other organisations up and down the supply chain. When calculating an organisation’s footprint it is important totry and quantify as full a range of emissions sources as possible in order to provide a complete picture of the organisation’s impact. In order to produce a reliable footprint, it is important to follow a structured process and to classify all the possible sources of emissions thoroughly. A common classification is to group and report on emissions by the level of control which an organisation hasover them. On this basis, greenhouse gas emissions can be classified1 into three main types: 1. irect emissions that result from activities the D organisation controls Most commonly, direct emissions will result from combustion of fuels which produce CO2 emissions, for example the gas used to provide hot water for the workspace. In addition, some organisations will directly emit othergreenhouse gases. For example, the manufacture of some chemicals produces methane (CH4) and the use of fertiliser leads to nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. 2. missions from the use of electricity E Workplaces generally use electricity for lighting and equipment. Electricity generation comes from a range of sources, including nuclear and renewables. However, in the UK around 75% is produced through thecombustion of fossil fuels. Although the organisation is not directly in control of the emissions, by purchasing the electricity it is indirectly responsible for the release of CO2. 3. ndirect emissions from products and services I Each product or service that is purchased by an organisation is responsible for emissions. So the way the organisation uses products and services affects its carbon...
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