Frequently asked questions
It's a way of measuring the impact we have on global heating. And is made up of all the carbon emissions we’re responsible for – released as a result of our daily lives.
The way we measure a carbon footprint is based on the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) released into the atmosphere by the way we live our lives, both individually and collectively. And we often use ‘carbon’ to describe all these GHG (like water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone).
These gases get released as a result of almost everything we do. For example, choosing to driving a car. From how it was manufactured, to creating the fuel it uses, to the emissions it releases on the road. That one choice releases carbon into our atmosphere.
It’s simple: to protect our planet. For us, our kids and grandkids, and everyone who comes after.
The carbon in our atmosphere traps heat from the sun, making our climate habitable. Otherwise, it would be too cold for life to exist. But it’s now out of balance. We’re releasing more carbon, so the atmosphere is absorbing more heat, causing more harm than good. We’re speeding up global heating.
We’re currently releasing more carbon than ever, and we’re doing it really fast. The more carbon we’re responsible for individually, the bigger our collective footprint. It all adds up, so each of us plays a part in heating up our planet. Lowering our carbon footprint means slowing this down. The good news is, we can do that without sacrificing the things we love. Or spending money we don’t have.
But to make this happen, all of us need to get involved. We believe that lots of small changes by all members can make a big impact on reducing carbon emissions. Ready to join us on our journey to zero carbon? OVO Beyond is here to get you there.
Carbon footprints are usually described in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (or the catchy abbreviation tCO2e). But picturing what a tonne of Co₂ looks like is tricky. Think about it this way: if you put about 4 London double-decker buses next to one another, that’s how much space a tonne of Co₂ would take up 1.
Co₂ isn’t a total baddie. It’s in our atmosphere naturally and has helped our planet reach the perfect temperature for us to be here in the first place.
But it’s the extra Co₂ we’re releasing that’s causing problems. In fact, we’re responsible for almost all of the GHG increase in the atmosphere for the last 150 years. Altogether, it’s heating our planet ten times faster than the normal rate. And all that extra heat isn’t good for ice. A group of clever scientists worked out that for each tonne of Co₂ released, 3 square meters (or 32 square feet) of the sea ice that covers the Arctic in the summer melts, thanks to the higher temperatures.
That’s bad news for anyone living near or below sea level on the coast. Read more about it here.
About the Carbon Tracker
It’s easy. First, you answer some quick questions about your home and travel. Things like how you use your energy at home, your recycling habits, how you travel around and how often, etc. Then, our awesome energy experts crunch that data and give you:
- You personal carbon target (a carbon emissions goal to aim for).
- Personalised suggestions to help you shrink your impact and fight the climate crisis.
With the help of the Carbon Trust, we’ve created the Carbon Tracker. It’s a tool to help you understand your carbon emissions and learn how to start shrinking them, without sacrificing the life you love.
Starting with your home energy, waste and transport emissions, it reveals your carbon impact and sets you a personal carbon target. So you can start lightening your carbon footprint, and really stand up to the climate crisis. En garde!
Your home footprint is made up of your electricity and gas use in your home, and the waste you produce (if you're living with others, your home's footprint is split equally between everyone in the house). And your transport footprint is the impact you make based on how you get around.
We use what’s called the ‘lifecycle’ method to calculate your carbon footprint.
Take a car, for example. To work out carbon emissions that go into owning and driving a car, we add up the carbon emissions released from the car’s entire lifecycle. This means we include all the materials needed to make it, drive it and the impact of those materials being collected, too. Even the impact of the car being disposed of. There’s a lot to consider. But we’re here to do the hard work.
Your carbon footprint will also cover the lifecycle emissions that went into producing and consuming the electricity and gas you use. Everything will be calculated based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – it’s the international standard for carbon footprinting. Proper science. Boom.
Remember, almost everything leads to carbon emissions being released – but don’t worry. We can help you make smarter choices, so you can start reducing your own impact 2.
We estimate it based on a net-zero goal we want to reach by 2050. ‘Net zero’ means achieving an overall balance between the emissions we release and the emissions we prevent from reaching the atmosphere. Or, even better, eliminating our emissions altogether.
The Carbon Tracker pinpoints where you are at this point in time and draws a pathway for you to 2050. We use the years 2020 and 2030 as milestones on this zero-carbon journey. Each insight you’ll see in the Carbon Tracker gives you an energy-saving suggestion – it’s what you need to do to get to zero faster.
The targets we set for you line up with the UK government’s targets to meet our zero-carbon goal by 2050. Let’s get it done.
All figures given relate to home energy use and waste only.
Your home footprint is made up of your electricity and gas use in your home, and the waste you produce (if you’re living with others, your home's footprint is split equally between everyone in the house).
The Carbon Trust helped us to calculate the emissions associated with a kWh of gas and electricity use based on the UK average fuel mix. This was then applied to average gas and electricity consumption figures from Government sources to calculate emissions from home energy use.
The Carbon Trust also helped us to calculate the emissions associated with various household waste sources including Food, Paper, Tin cans, Plastic, Glass and Non-recyclable waste. This was then applied to average household waste figures from Government sources to calculate emissions from waste.
Emissions were calculated according to the GHG Protocol, the international standard for carbon footprinting. The scope of the carbon footprint covers the lifecycle carbon emissions involved in the production and consumption of electricity and gas and waste (i.e. Scopes 1, 2 and 3 according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol).
In 2016, two climatologists published a paper in the prestigious journal Science showing a direct relationship between carbon emissions and the melting of Arctic sea ice. Every metric tonne of carbon dioxide or its equivalent shrinks the ice cover by 3 square meters. You can read more about the study here.
In 2018, the Green Electricity and Green Gas Upgrades reduced our Members' carbon emissions from energy use by 48,865 tonnes of CO2e compared to the UK grid average. The Green Electricity Upgrade is made up of 100% renewable electricity and the Green Gas Upgrade is made up of 100% carbon-neutral gas (15% green gas and we offset the remaining emissions). To measure this impact, we compare the carbon emissions Members have with the Green Energy Upgrades to the carbon emissions they'd have if they were with a supplier that had the UK grid average fuel mix. The Carbon Trust helped us to calculate the emissions from the Green Energy Upgrades and the UK grid average.
1 OK, you little number-cruncher, here’s the good stuff. The volume of a double-decker bus is 124 m3 and the volume of one tonne of Co₂ is 556.2 m3. So, we divide the volume of Co₂ by the volume of the bus and we get about 4 buses. ↵
2 The Carbon Tracker has been designed to show you actions you can take to lower your carbon footprint. These are indicative actions only and based on currently available data. ↵