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Get the Facts – Carbon footprint

How big will the government allow your carbon footprint to get?

When did you first hear the phrase ‘carbon footprint’? While it relates specifically to the amount of carbon dioxide a person, home or business produces, it’s often taken to represent the amount of energy we use in more general terms.

The Carbon Trust (, an independent body advising on carbon reduction and resource efficiency, defines it as follows:

“A carbon footprint measures the total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, organisation, event or product”

and goes on to say that when calculating your carbon footprint, all six of the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases should be taken into consideration.

These are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

Most people today recognise that reducing our carbon footprint is desirable and many businesses will include environmental policies on their website, with the measures they are taking to achieve this. What’s more, this has been supported by government legislation and incentives to put us on the right track.

What legislation is currently in place?

The UK signed up to the Kyoto Protocol in 1995. This means that it is committed to internationally binding emission reduction targets.

In 2008 it passed the Climate Change Act with the aim of setting the UK on an economically credible emissions reduction path. This includes making it a duty of the Secretary of State to reduce emissions by 2050 by at least 80% from 1990 baseline levels. However, as almost all of the policies to achieve this are currently voluntary, there has been some doubt cast on whether the target will be reached. Additionally, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act was passed in 2009, with a 42% reduction target set for 2020 and an 80% reduction target by 2050.

Since October 2013, all quoted companies must report on their GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions). The government also provides guidance for businesses and organisations on how to measure and report their GHG emissions through the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

EU Directive

As part of the European Union, the UK is also expected to follow the 2001/77/EC directive that promotes renewable energy for the production of electricity.

General Advice

The first step for any company is to set out an environmental policy and to establish what its current carbon footprint is and how it can be reduced or offset. A key point to remember, especially since the economic downturn, is that energy savings will almost always lead to saving your company money, for example by extending the life of equipment and reducing your electricity bill.

If you need any more advice about your Carbon Footprint Telephone: 01924 283 737

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