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Why should we care about our personal carbon footprint?

written by
Sortin Team

November 6, 2023

From day-to-day activities like e-mailing, to hyperscale projects like long haul shipping, every human activity leaves an impact on our planet. “Carbon footprint” is the most widely accepted metric to quantify this impact.

The urgency of the climate crisis necessitated action and hence we see that carbon footprint has already started bringing significant impact on government and corporate planning and action, with most major stakeholders pledging reduction in their impact. This leaves us with the question – What is an individual’s role in all this?

Individuals are key to making it all possible

Individuals are definitely not solely responsible to combat climate change but individual choices do contribute to collective action, which is a significant driver for impact. IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report finds that our lifestyle and behaviour change will drive 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

At the same time, we must also realize that an individual’s emissions are heavily determined by their income levels. While the bottom-50% (by income) individuals emit within the 2030 carbon budgets for reaching Paris agreement goals, the top decile emits significantly higher and contributes to almost half of all emissions.



Hence individual action, and specifically the actions of individuals in the top decile of the population are key to ensuring that the governments ,corporates and our civilization meets their targets. Calculating your carbon footprint is the first step towards transforming your lifestyle and behaviour for the better (individually and for the planet).

Calculating your personal carbon footprint is the first step, your next steps matter the most

Quantification of the problem helps in developing the solution. The aim behind quantifying the emissions of your behavior and lifestyle by calculating your personal carbon footprint should be to realize that -

1. Carbon footprint is ubiquitous: all of our actions and spending, however necessary or frivolous, leave behind a carbon footprint

2. We are in control our emissions: all our actions cause emissions, but we can control a significant proportion of our emissions by making simple climate positive choices (more on it here)

3. Collective action is incredibly powerful (and required): there is huge merit in collectivizing our actions and facilitating our networks to switch to sustainability as a way of life

Calculating your carbon footprint will only bring about the desired impact with these three realizations in mind.

Note that the evolution of carbon footprint has an interesting story (read more here) and that your carbon footprint is not a representation of your individual accountability towards the planet and one should not be blamed for their footprints. Individual action is critical, but minimizing our footprints is only one part of the puzzle. Although our awareness and associated shift in behavior and lifestyle choices will facilitate collective impact both on the demand (by reducing our footprint) and supply (by making it easier for sustainable alternatives to compete) sides.