GreenDependent Institute

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How climate-friendly is our day-to-day life? Calculating carbon footprints of households from Piliscsaba

Calculating the carbon footprint is the first step in raising awareness that lifestyle change can reduce the environmental impact of families. Making reductions is inevitable, because the average carbon footprint of Hungarians is significantly higher than the sustainable level.

GreenDependent Institution, in cooperation with Piliscsaba-Garancstető Association, calculated the yearly carbon footprints of 21 households during 2020 spring. The project is actually a tripartite collaboration, sponsored by Daikin. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day campaign[i] provides a special framework for and emphasis on the project. It reminds us that we need to reduce our impact intentionally.

The components of a household’s carbon footprint consist of six main categories: (1) household energy consumption; (2) transport; (3) leisure, vacation; food; (5) products; and, (6) public services. The last two components haven’t been included in the current calculation yet.

The average carbon footprint of the families that were included is 4.27 t CO2 per capita for 2019. One-third of the average carbon footprint of participating households relates to the energy consumption of their home. Vacations and food are each responsible for one-fifth of the footprint. Daily travel (commuting to work or school) accounts for less than one-sixth of it, and regular travel (everyday activities, like visiting grandparents) produces only half of the amount caused by daily travel.

The 4.27 tons annual emission that was calculated is already very close to the average Hungarian carbon footprint, which is around 5 tons per capita for a year. And if the two important components listed above (public services, and consumer goods except food) had also been included, it would certainly have exceeded this.

In general, the largest component of a family’s carbon footprint is the energy consumption of their home. In addition to their energy usage habits (e.g. at which temperature they set the heating), the footprint is determined by the energy condition of the home, and of course, the floor area of the house can also matter.

Although this was only a pilot project, it shows an important message: the components of households’ carbon footprints are different, so for their efficient decrease unique solutions are needed. And reductions are inevitable, as the sustainable level would be 2-2.5 t CO2 per capita for a year, which is much lower than the Hungarian average, and also than the participants’ average.



[i] The date of Earth Overshoot Day this year shifted to more than three weeks later compared to last year as a result of COVID lockdowns.

 

 

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