Why is it important to measure climate data and where do we get it from?
Where should I put my effort?
All global emissions can be traced back to us as individuals, through our demand for products and services every day. By using our choices to influence the demand for what is produced and offered, individuals have the opportunity to reduce all global emissions.
There are three areas where we as individuals make a difference, areas that both reduce our footprints and help others reduce their footprints as well. Together we can reach a point where sustainability becomes a social standard.
What you eat, what you wear and how you get about are all habits you can adapt to live a more sustainable life. You could for example choose to buy a quality sweater that lasts for ten years instead of one that lasts for two.
When you choose to buy a sweater you also choose which suppliers you want to produce sweaters. Choose more sustainable suppliers and products and you shift the market to be more sustainable.
Politicians dictate regulations and taxes which can force suppliers to be more environmental. Contact your local politician and choose carefully at election time.
How do we calculate footprints?
Ducky calculates footprints from the consumption perspective. This means all global emissions are allocated to us as consumers. Including how things are made, transported, used and recycled. The alternative way of calculating carbon footprint is from the geographical perspective and only includes emissions emitted within a specific area, such as within a country. This way of calculating climate data though useful for governance makes the individuals impact hard to see. This is why we calculate from a consumption perspective!
The consumption perspective shows the individuals global impact in service-based economies such as Norway. This is because service-based economies don’t have emissions in their area due to manufacturing, but cause emissions in other areas due to buying goods manufactured there. From the consumption perspective we get a good estimation of our environmental footprint. This allows us to make better choices to drive sustainable development and work together with industry to reach local and international climate goals.
So, how is a consumer based footprint calculated?
Luckily there are great models over all products and services that are produced in any country, and the average emissions from each sector within each country.
In addition there are good tables for how much money producers of products and services spend to make these, and what they get for selling them, meaning that environmental impact for all products and services can be calculated based on national monetary spendings.
When this information is combined with consumer expenditure surveys, the environmental footprint of individuals can be estimated from our spendings and we call this a top-down perspective. In addition we calculate most emissions from a bottom up perspective. The emission from a consumption action is then calculated based on a lifecycle analysis, and multiplied with the quantity of the action.
An example – Your food footprint
When we want to calculate the emissions from your diet we know how much money you spend on different food categories (based on your income and the assumption that you are average in your country) and the emissions from money spending of these food categories. This means that we can estimate your footprint form a top-down perspective.
We also have average data, that you can adjust in our calculator, on how many calories you eat of each food category and the climate emissions from each calorie of the different food categories. We can thereby calculate your footprint also from a bottom up perspective. We use both approaches to calibrate the climate data in our calculations.
We get climate data from these partners
NTNU - Industrial Ecology Programme
The IndEcol programme has extensive experience in research within the fields of Life Cycle Assessment, material flow analysis, and input-output analysis. They are global leaders in consumption based climate analysis for households, and their research makes it possible for companies such as Ducky to quanitify and understand personal impact.
Asplan Viak is a large mulitdisiplinary Norwegian consultancy company. One of their departments consist of skilled consultants with the mindset and knowledge from Industrial Ecology at NTNU. They are an important partner for customising and developing our climate database and for calculating the effect of our individual and collective actions.
Do you know your carbon footprint?
See how your lifestyle choices matter!