Talking about "carbon footprint" has become commonplace in recent years, and understanding a little more about the relationship between carbon and climate change is fundamental. Why is this so? Simply because life on planet Earth depends on it.
You may have seen somewhere that the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere has caused global warming, which is worrying for a number of reasons. We're talking about imbalances that will affect our quality of life, such as storms, floods, droughts, fires, deaths, etc.
If you're still not up to speed on the subject, read on to find out what a carbon footprint is and how to start reducing yours - yes, you have one too.
The carbon footprint is basically the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) that a person, group, company, institution or certain type of activity emits. The term " footprint" comes from the English word carbon footprint.
Although carbon is the most well-known element, other gases also intensify global warming (such as methane and nitrous oxide) and can be included in this calculation. To make the calculation easier, carbon footprints are usually measured in tons of carbon equivalent (CO2e).
This is a concept that comes from the 1990s, when William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel created an index to measure the impact of human activities on nature, taking into account the amount of carbon dioxide each emits.
Therefore, the higher the carbon footprint number, the greater the environmental impact caused. There are several tools available on the internet to calculate this quickly, but it's worth remembering that they only offer estimates of the impact generated, as it's actually a more complex analysis. The UN calculator, for example, takes into account factors such as housing, transportation and lifestyle.
Being able to measure your carbon footprint helps you try to optimize processes and look for ways to reduce this negative impact. One way is to offset emissions through your own initiatives or by buying carbon credits from those who generate this type of benefit.
Is carbon offsetting mandatory?
Despite being a global trend, offsetting carbon is still not mandatory in most situations. However, this reality is getting closer to changing. Here in Brazil, fossil fuel distributors are obliged by law to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including carbon dioxide.
Even so, what is happening is that companies are voluntarily reducing and offsetting their emissions to contribute to the planet, while also thinking about gaining a competitive edge in the market.
To give you an idea, the average value of the Decarbonization Credit (CBIO) has grown by more than 175% in two years, according to a study by PUC-RJ and the National Federation of Fuel, Natural Gas and Biofuel Distributors (Brasilcom).
The pressure on all countries exists due to the urgency of trying to contain climate change. The UN is one of the leaders in this regard, so much so that it promotes the COP (United Nations Conference on Climate Change) every year to discuss the issue and demand measures from the participants.
In the European market, things are more advanced. One example of this is that the European Union's (EU) Committee on Public Health and Food Safety has forwarded a bill to the plenary of the European Parliament that proposes obliging companies to prove that their products sold in the EU are "zero deforestation".
Based on the information provided, the European Commission will classify countries (or regions) as low, medium or high risk in relation to deforestation. The import of products is also being reviewed to give priority to those who care about the environment and declare their carbon footprint.
Finally, by increasing barriers and monitoring production chains, the movement against climate change is gaining momentum. The creation of labels that highlight products, services and companies that are committed to the environment encourages conscious consumption and all international trade can be impacted.
Tips for reducing your carbon footprint
Thinking about our future, it is essential to set targets to zero or at least reduce carbon emissions. Once again, we stress that offsetting is an important strategy for removing carbon from the atmosphere in a natural way. How can we do this? In addition to preserving the forests and green areas that already exist, we must green the planet even more to increase the rate of absorption. Changing our habits also makes all the difference in reducing negative impacts. Here are some tips:
- Adopt conscious consumption and choose sustainable products;
- Rethink the way you get around, as the transport sector is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases;
- Invest in renewable energy and save energy wherever possible;
- Learn about recycling and waste management;
- Start offsetting the carbon you emit with new trees.
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