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Carbon footprint & climate change

What is our carbon footprint?

Our carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly and indirectly by our day-to-day activities over a given period, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gas emissions are caused by a vast range of human activities. For example, heating your house, driving your car, taking public transport, and producing food and goods all result in greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gases keep heat in the earth’s atmosphere, and while they occur naturally, human activities since industrialization have caused a substantial rise in greenhouse gases resulting in global warming. Expected impacts include sea level rise and an increase in catastrophic weather events. Understanding how our carbon footprint contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and how we can reduce our carbon footprint, is becoming increasingly important.

How to calculate my carbon footprint

There are various websites available for estimating your carbon footprint, whether for the individual, household, organisation or business. These include household calculators for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from domestic activities, travel and tourism calculators for domestic and overseas air travel, accommodation and recreational activities, and more comprehensive calculators for businesses which estimate emissions and offer management plans to reduce them.

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