WHAT IS A CARBON FOOTPRINT?
The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
In other words: When you drive a car, the engine burns fuel which creates a certain amount of CO2, depending on its fuel consumption and the driving distance. (CO2 is the chemical symbol for carbon dioxide). When you heat your house with oil, gas or coal, then you also generate CO2. Even if you heat your house with electricity, the generation of the electrical power may also have emitted a certain amount of CO2. When you buy food and goods, the production of the food and goods also emitted some quantities of CO2.
Trees absorb Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere as part of their photosynthetic processes. It is the primary means of generating nutrition for its growth and repair activities. It is therefore acceptable to state that the quantity of carbon dioxide so absorbed is a direct function of the growth stage (young, mature or old tree), the specific species of the tree, the quantity of foliage (leaves), size of tree etc.
Given this context, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as part of its ‘Billion Tree Campaign’ presents the following indicative figures: an average tree absorbs 12 kilograms (26 pounds) of CO2 and emits enough oxygen for a family of four for a year.
Assuming an average life-span of 20 years for a tree (accounting for tree-planting mortality rates etc.), no2co2 uses a figure of 240 kgs (or approximately 0.25 tons) of CO2 Equivalents (CO2e) as the Carbon Absorption capacity of a tree over its lifetime. Thus, a Carbon Footprint of 1 ton of CO2e can be thought of as requiring the planting of approximately 4 trees to ‘Neutralise’ its impact.
Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame. Usually a carbon footprint is calculated for the time period of a year.
|fuel type||unit||CO2 emitted per unit|
|Petrol||1 gallon (UK)||10.4 kg|
|Petrol||1 liter||2.3 kg|
|Gasoline||1 gallon (USA)||8.7 kg|
|Gasoline||1 liter||2.3 kg|
|Diesel||1 gallon (UK)||12.2 kg|
|Diesel||1 gallon (USA)||9.95 kg|
|Diesel||1 liter||2.7 kg|
|Oil (heating)||1 gallon (UK)||13.6 kg|
|Oil (heating)||1 gallon (USA)||11.26 kg|
|Oil (heating)||1 liter||3 kg|
Each of the following activities add 1 kg of CO2 to your personal carbon footprint:
Calculating Carbon Footprints
To remain as accessible as possible, most carbon calculators ask very simple questions about consumption. To determine the amount of CO2 produced by home electricity, the calculator divides the estimated or exact usage by the price of power in the area. The calculator then multiplies this number by the state's emissions factor, a figure that relates to the type of energy the state uses. Calculators also factor in natural gas, heating oil and propane use. Carbon footprints also include the CO2 produced by transportation. Most people don't know their annual fuel usage, so calculators usually ask for an estimated annual mileage and the car's make, model and year. After compiling all the figures, the calculator produces a total CO2 output in tons -- a carbon footprint.
What are carbon credits?
One carbon credit is equivalent to one tonne of CO2 emissions. Credits can be sold in the international market at the prevailing prices via certain credit exchanges. Formalised in the Kyoto Protocol, carbon credits help developing/ underdeveloped countries as they traditionally have lower per-capita carbon emissions than developed countries and will need to emit CO2 owing to increasing industrial growth. At this point though, these countries can sell their carbon credits to other countries and reap the economic benefits of not polluting the planet.
A carbon credit (often called a carbon offset) is a financial instrument that represents a tonne of CO2 (carbon dioxide) or CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent gases) removed or reduced from the atmosphere from an emission reduction project, which can be used, by governments, industry or private individuals to offset damaging carbon emissions that they are generating.
Carbon credits are a part of international emission trading norms. They incentivise companies or countries that emit less carbon. The total annual emissions are capped and the market allocates a monetary value to any shortfall through trading. Businesses can exchange, buy or sell carbon credits in international markets at the prevailing market price.
India and China are likely to emerge as the biggest sellers and Europe is going to be the biggest buyers of carbon credits.
Last year global carbon credit trading was estimated at $5 billion, with India's contribution at around $1 billion. India is one of the countries that have 'credits' for emitting less carbon. India and China have surplus credit to offer to countries that have a deficit.
India, China and some other Asian countries have the advantage because they are developing countries. Any company, factories or farm owner in India can get linked to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and know the 'standard' level of carbon emission allowed for its outfit or activity. The extent to which I am emitting less carbon (as per standard fixed by UNFCCC) I get credited in a developing country. This is called carbon credit.
Today, one tonne of carbon credit fetches around Euro 22. It is traded on the European Climate Exchange. Therefore, you emit one tonne less and you get Euro 22. Emit less and increase/add to your profit. The Indian government has not fixed any norms nor has it made it compulsory to reduce carbon emissions to a certain level. Only those Indian companies that meet the UNFCCC norms and take up new technologies will be entitled to sell carbon credits.
There are parameters set and detailed audit is done before you get the entitlement to sell the credit. In India, already 300 to 400 companies have carbon credits after meeting UNFCCC norms. Till MCX came along, these companies were not getting best-suited price. Some were getting Euro 15 and some were getting Euro 18 through bilateral agreements. When the contract expires in December, it is expected that prices will be firm up then. Source:http://www.rediff.com/money/2008/feb/05inter1.htm