Reducing Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint has become a frequently used term in 2022. We are constantly talking about how we can reduce our carbon footprint and why there is a dire need to do so, but what exactly is carbon footprint? Where did this term come from? Is it as big a deal as people say it is?

Carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of human activities. The burning of fossil fuels is the most common activity that adds to our carbon footprint. However, it is not the only contributing factor. Every human activity, be it the production of food or the usage of electricity, adds to our carbon footprint.

 To simplify the concept, imagine this: You’re walking on sand and with every step you take, you leave behind footprints. Similarly, as we go about our normal lives, we leave behind carbon dioxide as a by-product of our actions.

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The term was first used by oil giant British Petroleum (BP) in an attempt to transfer the burden of climate change onto individuals rather than big corporations, such as BP, whose carbon footprint does significantly more damage to the environment. Carbon Majors Report, released in 2017, shows us just how dire the situation is. According to The Guardian, “The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities.

The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century.

The fossil fuel industry isn’t the only one escaping responsibility. Celebrities, millionaires, billionaires – or the richest 1% of the world also need to be held accountable for their reckless and wasteful lifestyles. Flight data released in July 2022 demonstrated just how luxuriously celebrities live. Many celebrities were exposed for taking unnecessary flights in their private planes.

Amongst these, Taylor Swift emerged as the most frequent flyer with more than 170 flights since January, which is more than 400 times the average person’s total annual emissions. Taking this into account, individual action to reduce the carbon footprint of the average person becomes nullified and inherently, pointless. These perpetrators of ecological crimes must be held responsible for the damage they cause.

A large carbon footprint results in more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, being released into the atmosphere and consequently raising Earth’s temperature (global warming). Therefore, it becomes critical that we are aware of our carbon footprint and take measures to reduce it. Failure to control our ever-enlarging carbon footprint will result in severe consequences, some of which we are witnessing even today in the form of severe heat waves, melting of glaciers, extreme weather, flash floods, etc.

We must take necessary action to reduce and control our carbon footprint. We can do so in many ways, the most popular being utilising the three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle; carpooling, and becoming mindful consumers by only buying what’s needed. The way forward will not just include individual change but also systemic change. We must elect and advocate for governments that believe in Climate Change and take steps to reduce countries’ dependence on fossil fuels. We need to collectively shift to clean and green energy!

Change is nigh, it’s up to us to decide whether it is for better or for worse.

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