Measuring your carbon emissions

Carbon CalculatorHave you decided you want to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, but are stuck because you’re unsure how much carbon pollution you cause to begin with? Or you do not know which of your behaviours you need to focus on?

This is a familiar problem to all of us who have signed onto 10:10, joined a carbon reduction group (see Carbon Rationing Action Groups for a list of such groups) or take part in Cambridge carbon footprint. It is easy enough looking at your old energy bills to see how much gas and electricity you’ve used. At a pinch, you can also see how many miles you have driven and estimate how much carbon you have released filling up your petrol tank. However, none of this helps us decide how to reduce emissions.

Carbon calculators

Luckily, there are a number of carbon calculators on the web to help to calculate how much carbon pollution you give rise to. In most of these, you answer a number of questions and they work out how much carbon your lifestyle is causing.

Most of the carbon calculators allow you to work out a quick and dirty calculation by asking you for information on gas and electricity, mileage and perhaps some questions about whether you are vegetarian. A fairly typical one is the government’s Act on CO2. This takes about 20 minutes to fill in and gives you an idea of your emissions broken down for travel, gas and energy use.

Screenshot from a sophisticated carbon calculator

However, if you want a more sophisticated carbon calculator, I have developed one to accompany my book the Economical Environmentalist. As well as the features mentioned above, it also works out emissions from your diet and the materials you throw away or recycle. However, it does require you to enter in more information. If you want to give it a go and get a real insight into how your behaviour and purchases cause carbon pollution, you can find the calculator at

PrashantPrashant is the Chief Economist at Consumer Focus, which campaigns for the fuel poor. He is also the author of the Economical Environmentalist.


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