Carbon Offsetting for Individuals
Why offset your individual emissions?
There is compelling evidence that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Yet the forces driving climate change – human emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide from households, cars and flights, and ongoing deforestation – continue to grow. The longer we each fail to act, the worse the consequences for people and the natural world will become.
This means governments and industry must act, of course. But it also means that each and every one of us must take responsibility for our own impact on the climate.
How Carbon Balanced at the WLT can help
There are many things that you can do as an individual. WLT recommends three steps:
- Calculate your emissions – you can estimate your lifestyle emissions from your home, land and sea transport and flights using our carbon calculators.
- Reduce your emissions as much as possible – we recommend websites which contain advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Offset unavoidable emissions – offset your lifestyle emissions which cannot be avoided through Carbon Balanced forest conservation projects.
The WLT Carbon Balanced calculators enable you to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions associated with your day to day life. Each Calculator below covers a different aspect of your personal carbon footprint.
Flight Calculator: calculate the carbon dioxide emissions associated with your flights
Transport Calculator: calculate the carbon dioxide emissions associated with your transport use
Household Calculator: calculate the emissions associated with your domestic electricity and fuel use
Fixed Offsets: use our fixed offset options to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of an average UK individual, couple, family or event
The lifestyle calculator allows individuals to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions associated with their household energy use and travel. These two areas are responsible for the majority of an individual’s carbon footprint. The following information explains how WLT calculates emissions based on the information you supply.
To make sure Carbon Balanced calculations are based on the best available science, WLT uses the most recent Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) approved conversion factors. These can be found in Guidelines to Defra’s greenhouse gas (GHG) conversion factors for company reporting (PDF) . These ‘conversion factors’ are figures that equate specific activities – the burning of one litre of fuel oil, for example – with the precise volume of greenhouse gases produced as a result.
It has been well documented that aviation is responsible for a significant volume of carbon dioxide emissions. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) advises that due to the emissions at high altitude and additional emissions of NOx, water vapour, particles and the formation of contrails and enhanced cirrus cloudiness, aviation has effects on climate far beyond that resulting from CO2 alone. To take this into account scientists have devised a multiplier called the ‘Radiative Forcing Index’ which is applied to CO2 emissions. This is currently an active area of research and at present there is no standard figure. The IPCC estimates that Radiative Forcing can have an affect on the atmosphere between 2-4 times that of CO2, whilst Defra suggests a figure of 1.9. For the time being WLT will use a factor of 1.9, but will continually review the science and advice surrounding this issue.
By applying conversion factors to the information supplied online the Carbon Balanced calculator computes the total emissions offset required, and calculates the cost of taking this action.
Defra calculate that domestic room and water heating accounts for approximately 74% of total emissions from home energy use. By lowering room heating by just 1°C a household can prevent the release of 294 kg of CO2 a year, reducing the annual household emissions by 6%. This shows that simple, small changes can have significant effects.
Whether you are considering simple steps to reduce household electricity use or straightforward lifestyle changes such as using public transport or introducing more vegetarian food to your diet, there is a great deal of help available.
Below are links to some useful energy reduction advice and greener living sites.
Reducing your emissions
- www.energysavingtrust.org.uk – The Energy Saving Trust provides free advice on reducing carbon dioxide emissions in your home.
- info.cat.org.uk – The Centre for Alternative Technology offers a free information service on sustainable living, with links to information sheets.
- www.uea.ac.uk/lcic – Carbon Reduction Programme (CRed) offers advice to individuals and businesses on energy efficiency.
- www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk – The Low Carbon Buildings Programme provides grants to households, communities, businesses, and not-for-profit organisations for the installation of microgeneration technologies.
- www.greenandeasy.co.uk – Green & Easy is a site selling greener living products.
- www.foe.co.uk – Friends of the Earth provide advice and information on eco living, as well as information on their current environmental campaigns. They also sell a range of inspirational environmental books.
- www.everyactioncounts.org.uk – Every Action Counts provides advice for voluntary and community organisations interested in reducing their impact on the environment.
- www.together.com – Together creates partnerships with top household names to produce a range of eco-friendly and energy saving products.
- www.mitie.com/carboncare – Carbon Care* provides information for organisations on reducing their carbon footprint.
- www.saveatonne.com – Save a tonne gives information on simple ways to save a tonne of CO2.
- www.carbonrationing.org.uk – Carbonrationing is a network helping you to reduce your carbon footprint at the community level, with advice on setting up groups and measuring your progress.
- www.vegsoc.org – The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom is the oldest vegetarian organisation in the world. It is an educational charity promoting understanding and respect for vegetarian lifestyles.
- www.supportmfm.org – Meat free Monday is a campaign to encourage the nation to help slow climate change by reducing their meat consumption by having at least one meat free day a week.
- www.greenelectricity.org – Green Electricity Marketplace is a website providing information on ‘green’ tariffs offered by electricity companies in the UK.
- www.good-energy.co.uk – Good Energy enables you to switch your energy supplier to one which uses renewable resources.
- www.recyclenow.com – Recycle Now provides information and advice on recycling.
- www.recycling-guide.org.uk – Recycling Guide provides information and advice on recycling.
- www.liftshare.com – Liftshare is a car-sharing network covering the whole of the UK.
- www.greentraveller.co.uk – GreenTraveller provides advice on low-impact travelling.
Once you have reduced your lifestyle emissions as much as possible, you can re-calculate your new carbon footprint using our calculators and offset those emissions which cannot be avoided through WLT’s Carbon Balanced forest conservation projects.
If you are not in a position to calculate your carbon footprint but still wish to offset, visit our fixed offsets page where you can donate to offset an emissions volume of your choosing or the average greenhouse gas emissions generated by an individual, couple, family or event.
Every supporter who donates £10.00 and above has the option of receiving a personalised Carbon Balanced certificate stating the emissions they have offset.
Carbon Balanced offsets are allocated to the most recently developed project, or that under development at the time of your donation, located in one of regions in which we work. The transfer of your donation to the project usually occurs within three months.
To enable us to make best use of donations in addressing urgent threats and opportunities, the WLT does not commit to allocating funds to any specific projects in advance. Once allocated, however, WLT can state exactly where and how each offset payment has been used.
All WLT Carbon Balanced offset projects are designed according to stringent international standards. To find out more about this, visit our project design page.
"From research, the World Land Trust [Carbon Balanced] project seems the most credible. Your website supplies info about your projects and deals with the controversy surrounding offsetting, which other websites do not."