Carbon Footprint Measurement
- Why do we need to do it?To account for the way in which we are looking after the resources that we are responsible for using. Just as the treasurer of a PCC or a voluntary organisation accounts for how members’ money is being used.
- Also, this accounting or measuring process should help us learn to reduce our impacts to sustainable levels - as a weight watcher learns from her/his calorie measurement.
- As our programme lasts over a period of years we do our calculations over a period of years –a calculation frenzy will not be imposed on anyone. We will have a clear – and limited – list of records that we need to keep.
- You have difficulty with numbers? Even if you feel that the invention of arithmetic by the ancient Arabs was somehow diabolically inspired (as many of my students in the past seemed to) please do not panic. The plan is for each group to have carbon accountant – one of us sad fraternity whose greatest pleasure in life is to manipulate numbers. He (and we are usually ‘he’s’ in this fraternity!) will tell you what figures to collect, and do your calculations for you, if you don’t want to do your own – with back-up from a small gang of sort of super-nerds in the ecocell organising group.
If people feel they have to drop out of this challenging programmes because of the inherent difficulties with the programme, with the major changes that some of us (and our families) may have to make – well that is very disappointing, but understandable.
But if some people drop out because they cannot do their sums - well the group as a whole should not allow that to happen.
- We are using an adaptation of the George Marshall method. All members need to read the short section in Carbon Detoxchapters, to understand the basic logic of his approach … copies on sale here for £5.
- Using this method, different activity areas are recorded differently:
- domestic fuel and personal travelare calculated fairly directly: monthly meter readings, car mileage readings(for drivers), public transport journeys of above a certain length
- food is calculated by allocating different amounts of ‘carbos’ to different types of diets or food-related practices – will say more in the next exercise this afternoon
- ‘other stuff’ - emissions from other goods and services are based on expenditures on different categories of goods and services – which means we need to keep records of such spending, as will be clearly explained.
- as with any accounting process we try to measure the bigger things as accurately as we can, and make rough approximates of the smaller things– like local public transport journeys.
- Less usual items – like oil for heaters, or rare antique cars – have not been included in the spread sheet. Ask your carbon accountant to find estimate of emissions from such sources and to adapt your calculator accordingly.
- you don’t include your journeys made on your employer’s business, or fuel used in your home when working from home on employer’s business’.
- By all means look at some of the carbon or footprint calculators that you can find on the web. But they are nearly all little more than quick, one-off gross or very rough guestimates. And some of them just take your data without really telling you how your particular figures or patterns of behaviour are contributing to your overall totals – and therefore don’t guide you as to what changes you need to concentrate on.None of them are appropriate for our journey.
- as a group you can use your data in various ways
- to promote ‘healthy competition’ between people (not recommend!)
- co-operatively, to learn from each other to help each other
- to create a sort of emission credit union– for instance if one person wanted to visit her ill sister in Canada, others reduce their emissions further to compensate; then the first person might pay for some energy conservationmeasures that others might use?
In this way we can help to develop a shared journey experience.
ecocell – Marshall Plan (for use with Guidance for Facilitators) – 29 Sept 10 version 1 of 3