Communities can measure carbon footprint with new tool

A new online tool will provide small communities with usable data on their carbon emissions which is both easy to understand and share.

On 24 March, the tool, Impact, was unveiled by its developers, the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the University of Exeter’s Centre for Energy and Environment. It falls under the South West Environment and Climate Action Network (SWeCAN) project and will help communities to uncover their main impact areas, where focused action will result in the most substantial contribution to cutting local emissions. 

The tool takes two approaches to carbon footprinting, the first of which is territorial based. This assesses all emissions from activities within a particular boundary, such as road and rail travel, industrial and commercial emissions and agriculture, and household energy use. The second is consumption based which, while also looking at household energy use, considers the behaviours and purchases of people living in the area.

CSE Project Lead, Rachel Coxcoon, outlined how local authorities and central government have been working on climate emergency plans, with carbon footprinting commonly commissioned as a part of this. Coxcoon continued: “But we identified a real gap for carbon footprinting at the small community scale which takes into account the lack of specialist knowledge among community groups and the lowest tier of local government. Impact fills this gap. And as well as being clear and useable, it will also give you pointers, once you understand your community’s impact, on what to do next.”