Carbon footprint, environmental impact, greenhouse gas emissions, we here the terms all the time, but what do any of them actually mean? Let’s demystify the jargon.
Carbon footprint refers to the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions associated with a person, activity, or thing. When we talk about our personal carbon footprints, we mean all the greenhouse gas emissions associated with how we live our lives. Carbon footprint is often interchanged with the term climate impact. The lower the carbon footprint, the lower the climate impact.
The greenhouse effect is the name given to how certains trap extra heat in the atmosphere and causes the planet to warm. Greenhouse gases are the gases that are known to cause the greenhouse effect, and the principal offenders are CO2, Methane, Nitrous and Sulfur Oxides. Each gas causes a different amount of warming, or has a different global warming potential. To make things simpler, all are normalised to what the equivalent amount in CO2 is, this is written as CO2e. Greenhouse gas emissions are measured in mass (grams, kilograms, tonnes, megatonnes, gigatonnes).
Environmental impact is a broad term used to describe anything that has a negative impact on the environment. This can be anything from water pollution to CO2 emissions to microplastics. Climate impact is just one small subset of the many environmental impacts that result from human activity. In the Evocco score, we just focus on greenhouse gas emissions for now. Here’s why.