Blog: Beginning my journey to reduce my daily carbon footprint

BlogUpdated: 7 July 2023Environment and Climate Emergency
Cllr Jon Tankard, lead member for environmental services, climate change, and sustainability

The Lead Member for Climate Change and Sustainability has started a weekly blog documenting his journey to reducing his daily carbon footprint. Cllr Jon Tankard calculates what his daily carbon footprint is and what he can do to reduce it. He writes:

We all appreciate that we must reduce our day-to-day carbon footprint to help reach that all-important net-zero by 2045, but how do we do that if we cannot afford expensive electric cars or air-source heat pumps?

Well, let’s have a look at the statistics. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has an online calculator – and just by answering a few questions, it calculates your carbon footprint. You can check yours out here:

Having done the WWF calculator my footprint comes out at 11.4 tonnes. The UK average is 9.3 Tonnes, so I am above average (this is due to my meat consumption, driving and my computer purchases). However, according to the site, the local average is 15.8 tonnes.

My footprint is broken down as follows:

The local average is broken down as follows:

According to Three Rivers District Council’s Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy, the district must reduce its carbon emissions by 14% annually in order to meet its net-zero target by 2045. This will require everyone within the district to cut down their carbon footprint.

The baseline report demonstrates that each individual in the district has to cut carbon emissions by 48% by 2030 and 75% by 2050 to reach net-zero.

So, by those standards, I need to drop my carbon footprint to 5.9 tonnes by 2030 and to 2.9 tonnes by 2045. Here’s how I will begin my journey to cut back on my carbon emissions:

Now, as I have not been on a flight for about eight years, my travel is only low because of this, so my food is the first thing to reduce as well as my working travel and social driving, such as going to the shops.

Currently, I drive five days a week with work as I need to have ‘face to face’ meetings with the team in order to plan workloads and organise. I will look at reorganising my weekly program to avoid car travel two days a week, working from home, and limiting meetings to office days. Also reduce my ‘out of office’ mileage, by cycling any distance under 3 miles, and where over that distance, look to car share if possible.

Despite previously being a vegetarian, I now eat meat on a ‘each meal’ basis, in fact, I feel let down without meat in a meal! But I feel that may be more psychological than a requirement. I will start by going 50% meat-free in my diet. And what meat I do eat, I will reduce to fish, shellfish, chicken or pork, which has a much lower carbon footprint compared with beef and lamb.

I will present a weekly diary to calculate a weekly total, and the important thing is, that this is not a game! I will need to be brutally honest in order to get honest results. Without that honesty, we cannot identify the issues and adapt my lifestyle accordingly to accelerate areas where I fail to achieve my goals.