Carbon Footprints

The role of carbon dioxide in our changing climate is now well understood – as is the need for ever more ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK average annual carbon footprint
is currently just over 11 tonnes of CO
2e per person.
By 2030 it needs to be below 5.5 tonnes.
(That’s half – in just 10 years)! 

This is the UK’s ‘consumption’ figure, which includes the footprints of imported goods and services, and excludes exports. This provides the best indicator of the emissions for which we are responsible as UK residents.

We all have a role to play – from the global corporation to the private individual. But it’s never easy to know how to act for the best. At UBoC, we suggest a three stage approach:

Stage 1) Find out what your carbon footprint actually is (below),

Stage 2) Reduce your emissions as much as you possibly can,

Stage 3) Compensate for your unavoidable emissions by investing in projects that can capture and store an equivalent quantity of carbon in natural or man-made ‘sinks.’

Today this usually means trees, plants, biodiversity and soils, but soon, as the technology becomes available, it will also mean innovative Carbon Capture and Storage too.

Stage 1 – Carbon calculation

A carbon footprint is defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (the ‘e’ means that other greenhouse gasses are also accounted for). If you want to know how your personal footprint compares to the average, you can find out in a couple of minutes – see below.

There are lots of other calculators around.
Note that these will often deliver quite different results, because footprint calculation is a very complex process that must be simplified to make it accessible, and this involves a few compromises. We hope our own calculator manages these in an acceptable way, but no-one’s perfect, so you might like to try a few others too! One we can recommend (because we have insight into how it works) is WWF, and The Guardian has one just about aviation, if you want to focus on just that aspect.  

Stage 2 – Carbon reduction

We may be able to help you to decide how best to reduce your footprint, though businesses and organisations may be better off approaching a specialist consultancy as we only have the resources to  provide general advice.

For people and households there is a wealth of advice online, such as this and this. The top tips are to fly very little (if at all), eat less meat – especially red meat (veg or vegan is best, but try to avoid crops that are causing deforestation), buy green energy, choose local and low-carbon products, insulate your house really well, wear warm clothes indoors so you can turn your heating down to 17 or 18 degrees, drive as little as you can, and don’t use the internet any more than you really have to.

Stage 3 – Carbon compensation by tree planting

Finally, we can help you to compensate for your ‘unavoidable emissions’ while supporting good tree projects in the UK and in the tropics.

If you don’t plan to use our calculator (which is for individuals, not businesses, organisations or groups), there’s more about dealing with your ‘unavoidable’ carbon here.

Otherwise, follow the link below. Don’t worry if some questions are not framed perfectly for you. Just pick the option that seems closest – your results should come out about right. If you want to allow for other people, run the calculator for each person, then add the totals together. For other adults, answer as you would for yourself. For children just include things like flights and holidays where they clearly have a footprint that’s additional to yours.

Please be sure to answer every question you see, and always enter a zero on any that don’t apply, especially in Q1. If you don’t get a total at the end – you missed one! Click each tab in the menu and look for questions now printed in red. Any problems contact us


United Bank of Carbon is a not-for-profit collaboration between businesses and environmental scientists, which protects and restores forests and other greenery, through environmentally and socially-responsible partnerships with local communities. We undertake research, support forest and woodland projects in the UK and the tropics that deliver CSR/PR benefits, provide carbon reduction advice, and help to arrange compensation for unavoidable carbon emissions