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How to go Carbon Neutral

I first became concerned about climate change about 10 years ago when I read Six Degress: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas. Mark’s book predicts what might happen to the global environment for each degree of warming from one through to six, and hohestly, its scarey stuff to say the least.

At the time I was commuting 100 miles a day by car. Reading Six Degress immediately prompted me to buy a Brompton Folding Bike and a Season Train Ticket, and leave the car at home. Six months later, a broken collar bone and a broken elbow caused me to sell the bike, but it did not deter me from staying on the train to minimise my carbon footprint.

When I finally gave up the day job and embraced a new career as a Driving Instructor, my increased Carbon Footprint has always been playing on my mind. A week or so ago, I sat down and thought: What can I do about it? A quick search on the internet yielded this I thought it would be a nice idea for my business to be Carbon Neutral, and maybe even acquire a Carbon Footprint Standard.

The first question I asked was: What does it mean to be Carbon Neutral for a driving instructor? The answer is not as straight forward as it may seem. The most obvious Greenhouse Gas Emissions that I need to reduce or offset is all the emissions that gets pumped out of my exhaust pipe every day, but is doesn’t need to stop there. Greenhouse Gas Emissions can be divided into three categories:

Scope 1 – All Direct Emissions from the activities of an organisation or under their control. Including fuel combustion on site such as gas boilers, fleet vehicles and air-conditioning leaks.

Scope 2 – Indirect Emissions from electricity purchased and used by the organisation. Emissions are created during the production of the energy and eventually used by the organisation.

Scope 3 – All Other Indirect Emissions from activities of the organisation, occuring from sources that they do not own or control. These are usually the greatest share of the carbon footprint, covering emissions associated with business travel, procurement, waste and water.

Emissions from my exhaust is part of Scope 1, but to be fully Carbon Neutral, I would need to take into account everything else.

For the moment, I have decided to start with exhaust emissions. I have calculated all the exhaust emissions from my training vehicle since I started giving driving lessons in January 2018 up to the current date. I plugged the mileage into Carbon Footprint’s calculator, and came up with a whopping 4.582 tonnes of CO2. I then agreed to offset this amount by investing in the Global Portfolio of Verified Carbon Standard Projects.

I know this is only a start. Therefore, I enquired from Carbon Footprint Ltd, what was required to call myself Carbon Neutral, and this is the response:

“To receive the Carbon Footprint Standard you would have to complete a Carbon Footprint Verification. A Carbon Footprint Verification is the process of:

  • You calculating your organisations scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions using our free online calculator (12 months of data is required for this).

  • One of our consultants verifies that the calculation is correct.

  • We write up a short report which quantifies your carbon footprint and you will receive the ‘Carbon Assessed’ certificate for 12 months.

  • If you then decide to offset your emissions through one of our carbon offsetting projects, you will receive the ‘Carbon Neutral’ certificate for 12 months.

  • To retain this, you then have to complete a verification 12 months later again with new data.

The cost of a verification lies between £450 and £800.”

From my point of view, the cost of a verification is far too high for me, as a driving instructor, to justify. Also, its not entirely obvious what part of my household carbon footprint is attributable to the business. However, that is no excuse for not doing something about it, so I have decided to measure my household Carbon Footprint by calculating scope 1 and 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions for my household. That will be the subject of another post. In the meantime, you too, can measure your Carbon Footprint via this calculator.

Watch this space to see how I get on with my household calculations.