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The industrial revolution has resulted in significant development worldwide. However, it has also caused increases in greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn have driven various international crises – such as famines, droughts, and more generally, climate change.
What does carbon footprint mean, and how does it affect us? How is one’s carbon footprint calculated? How can you reduce it? And how does your carbon footprint affect your business’ chances of success? Read on to learn about carbon emissions and how to reduce them.
Carbon footprint refers to the number of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, that an individual or community emits over time due to their actions. Carbon footprint is measured in units of carbon dioxide. The amount of greenhouse gases a business organisation generates is thus its corporate carbon footprint.
Globally, the average carbon footprint per person is 7 tonnes of CO2 per year. This is equivalent to taking two return flights from London to Hong Kong. In the United States, the average carbon footprint is 16 tonnes per person, reports The Nature Conservancy. An individual’s carbon footprint is calculated by accounting for the electricity, fuel, and meat consumed, how much waste they generate, and other personal choices. In short, humans’ daily activities leave a carbon footprint, which affects the environment in several ways:
Greenhouse gases accelerate climate change and global warming, seen in extreme weather conditions such as famines, droughts, and floods.
Carbon emissions pollute urban landscapes, thus causing more individuals to suffer from respiratory diseases.
They also bring about toxic acid rain, harming humans, animals, and plants.
Greenhouse gases are directly linked to rising global temperatures, which accelerate the melting of glaciers and the acidification of ocean water, killing marine species.
Human activities are the leading cause of CO2 emissions. These include the following:
Oil emission remains the main contributor to greenhouse gases, following an increase in travel after the global pandemic. Coal is the biggest culprit, accounting for approximately 40% of global carbon emissions in 2022, according to the Global Carbon Project.
Burning of coal and natural gas to generate electricity is another major source of CO2 emissions.
Livestock and factory farming
Household and corporate activities, such as burning fossil fuels for heat, energy and the incineration of waste.
Unintended spillovers from factories that cause pollution
Heating and air-conditioning from offices uses a large amount of electricity and produces gas emissions
Rush-hour traffic jam contribute to air and noise pollution
Electronic and paper waste that ends up in landfills
While your carbon footprint affects the environment in general, it can also significantly impact your business. First and foremost: the economic impact. A higher CO2 footprint is directly associated with higher energy consumption. This translates into higher energy bills, which can be put towards other areas of your business to generate greater revenue.
Next is the social impact: consumers today are more responsible and knowledgeable when it comes to sustainability, preferring brands that limit their carbon footprint. Given that the vast majority of consumers are willing to pay more for recycled products, businesses may stand to lose a significant number of potential customers if they do not work towards reducing their carbon footprint.
As greenhouse gases and their harmful effects proliferate, the need to offset carbon emissions and make sustainable choices gains importance. Thankfully, consumers are becoming more aware of their responsibility to make more sustainable choices.
There are several ways individuals and corporations can reduce their carbon emissions, these include:
Switching to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar
Using electric vehicles instead of traditional vehicles powered by fossil fuels
Switching to renewable aviation fuel
Recycling industrial products to reduce waste
Using energy-efficient appliances and electronics
Reducing solid waste sent to landfills
Using solvents and refrigerants that emit less carbon
Manure management to reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions during decomposition
Businesses can help reduce their carbon emissions by cultivating a green culture in the company. A key aspect of reducing your CO2 footprint is to ensure green practices across the supply chain. This means partnering with a logistics company that helps you achieve your sustainability goals.
DHL Express is the pioneer of green logistics, targeting zero emissions by 2050. It aims to increase the sustainable aviation fuels for its fleet to more than 30% by 2030.
With over 86% electricity generated through renewable energy, more than 100 million miles travelled on e-vehicles, and more than 70,000 certified GoGreen specialists, DHL Express is redefining logistics, aiming to help businesses make a more significant impact together. Open a DHL Express account today and find out how it can help you achieve your sustainability goals.