We give you five relatively simple tips on what you can do to reduce your climate footprint.
1. Can you choose green electricity? Check if your provider has a green electricity plan for you! Either on their website or by calling them. This can reduce your emissions significantly! In the EU, your electricity provider is obliged to let you know the energy source (referred to as electricity disclosure).
How much do I need to reduce my climate footprint to contribute to the Paris Agreement and the important 1.5 degree goal?
According to the study 1.5 degree lifestyles (2018), globally, in the year 2030, we can emit maximally 2.5 tonnes CO2eq/person to have a chance of managing the decisive 1.5 degree target. In 2040, we will be able to emit maximally 1.4 tonnes CO2eq/person, and in 2050 – a maximum of only 0.7 tonnes CO2eq/person. Read more about this here.
Currently, the average American emits nearly 20 tonnes CO2eq per year. Source: http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/us-environmental-footprint-factsheet
Working hard to stop climate change and making the world a better place is great everyday life. But even heroes need holidays, to recharge the batteries and enjoy the small things around us. Stopping to smell a flower, having a cup of coffee in no rush at all, maybe even turning off the phone. Taking a break from the digital world can be so refreshing! And when you do that, what better way to spend time than with a book? We at GoClimate have a diverse taste in books, but we decided to present some related to climate change.
(Two years ago we did another blog post about this, find it HERE)
The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Gosh. The Indian novelist wrote his first non-fictional book in 20 years on the topic of climate change, highlighting the cultural shift that is needed to address this issue. Climate chance is not too unrealistic to be portrayed in popculture anymore.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural Story by Elizabeth Kolbert (US). This book has been very praised for how it narrates the story of the process we are currently living in, and how humans are the protagonists in this.
What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action by Per Espen Stoknes. This is perhaps the most facts-y book on the list, where the Norwegian Psychologist identifies psychological barriers to climate action, and addresses them with concrete strategies. Now that we know what we know, how do we handle that? He also gave a TED talk on the topic!
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate and On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein (Canada). This Changes everything was published in 2016, presenting a strong argument for the links between climate change and the current free market economy. This book has had a monumental impact on the climate movement, and its sequel is explaining how bold climate action can be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safron Foer. This American author has previously produced both fiction and the arguably best book on veganism: Eating Animals. The book is a peculiar and personal take on climate change and our diets, and worth it because the writing and randomly connected thoughts are so poignant.
Oryx and Crake and The year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (Canada). Known for an extensive body of literature (for example, The Handmaid’s Tale), Atwood is building the Maddaddam Trilogy on a backdrop of climate change. Perhaps more relaxing than the fact-filled books!
Tentacle by Rita Indiana (Dominican Rep). Not all climate books are non-fiction! This is a novel built on Caribbean storytelling, covering climate change, Yoruba rituals, time travel, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Try something new!
What are you reading this summer? Drop us a comment below!
So you already know that when you sign up at GoClimate, you support climate projects through carbon offsetting. But how do these projects actually work?
The main purpose of a climate project is to avoid the emission of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. There are different ways to do this, and the carbon market is constantly evolving with new projects and better methods for measuring emissions reductions.
One way that is easy to measure and easy to understand is therefore projects that produce renewable energy. By creating the kind of energy that does not cause emissions, we give people the opportunity to stop using fossil fuels. For example, when we build wind power in India and connect more people to the electricity grid, they no longer need to use diesel generators or burn charcoal, which is often the case before the project is implemented.
Some examples of projects that GoClimate have supported which produce renewable energy:
The reason we want to contribute to this in countries like India and Indonesia is that wind power is still too expensive to be built without the income from carbon credits – this is what is meant by additionality. Wind power can produce the same energy in Sweden, but the marginal utility will be higher elsewhere as we avoid combustion of coal and diesel and contribute to raising the standard of living on site.
Another type of climate project is the capture of greenhouse gas emissions that occur in different processes, and converting them into energy instead – so-called biogas projects. The projects often involve installing improved technology so that greenhouse gases from biodegradation of organic matter, for example in landfills or in waste water, are not released into the atmosphere but are contained and converted into energy. Here we immediately avoid the emissions, and do something useful with the energy instead! This is often a bit more expensive than, for example, building wind power, which rank among the cheapest projects.
Some examples of biogas projects which GoClimate have supported:
Another type of project aims to improve methods of cooking. A large proportion of the world’s population cook their food over open fire, which leads to deforestation when more and more people need firewood. By offering better equipment, the people responsible for cooking, usually women, do not need to collect as much wood. This saves both trees and time for them, and with the improved equipment it also reduces air pollution and air born particles, which has a positive impact on their health. These projects thus have great potential benefits, but are more difficult to implement because it implies changing behaviors, and then it is more difficult to measure the results. The risk is thus higher, but the benefits can be very significant.
GoClimate has financed a few projects of this kind:
Another type of climate project has to do with trees. This can be reforestation of areas that have been deforested, the planting of trees on areas that have not had a forest before, or protection of existing forests. Projects of this kind are incredibly important because the trees bind carbon dioxide from the air, and there are many potential benefits such as increased biodiversity, improved microclimate, etc. Nevertheless, we at GoClimate have chosen not to invest in this kind of climate project. The main reason is that the carbon that is bound in the tree is admittedly absorbed, but it is not a permanent storage of carbon dioxide as it, intentionally or unintentionally, can be released into the atmosphere again. The lack of permanence and the risks associated with it means that we do not want to offset in this kind of projects.
This is a brief summary of some different types of climate projects, but there are more on the market, and more are being developed at the time of writing. Of course, since the projects are so different, the prices of the projects vary, and there is thus no fixed price for a ton of carbon dioxide. In addition, all projects have administrative costs – if no one designs, administers and supervises the project, there will be no projects and we also could not guarantee the quality of them. But that’s why we exist – to do part of the job for you who want to save the climate by offsetting emissions. Part of the cost also goes to the certification, to ensure the quality of the project. In this way we avoid projects that don’t make positive impacts, and protect ourselves from corruption and inefficiency.
We have now offset another 25,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!
This time, we are financing a new technology that we haven’t been involved with before – geothermal energy production! We are really excited to see that there are projects of this type available on the voluntary carbon credit market now, and we’ll tell you all about why this is so important.
This project is called Dora II, and it is a geothermal energy production plant in the Aydin province in Turkey. The plant has an installed capacity of 9.5 MWe with an annual electricity production of 70,000 MWh. Geothermal plants use the heat that is stored in the ground to produce electricity. The very short tech summary is that this project utilizes something called a Binary cycle system, where fluid obtained from a well that is dug into the ground transmits its temperature to another fluid (pentane, that has a lower evaporation degree), which powers a turbine that produces electricity.
Geothermal energy is a great way to complement other renewable energies, like wind and solar, because it offers a constant supply that is not dependent on the weather. It is therefore considered a baseload, or readily dispatchable power. It can take place at all hours and under almost any weather conditions, it is reliable, efficient, and the heat source itself is free.
However, only 6 to 7 percent of the world’s potential geothermal power has been tapped, according to Project Drawdown. There is still a lot to discover, but it is believed that some 7 to 13 percent of the current global energy consumption could be satisfied with geothermal energy. This makes it one of the top 20 solutions to climate change as listed by Project Drawdown. However, this will only be possible if we together assume the costs of early investment and developments. That is why we at GoClimate are so excited to be supporting this project!
If you have spent more time online than usual lately – you are not alone! Especially streaming has had almost exponential growth, as our consumption patterns of movies and series has been revolutionized by online services. Have you ever wondered if all the hours on Netflix actually have a carbon footprint? We dig into the details!
Powering the internet uses a massive amount of energy, from the remote data centers all the way to the power of the device that you are reading this on. The scope of it makes it incredibly challenging to calculate, and even when we do, the numbers are almost too large to grasp – the carbon footprint of YouTube has been estimated to 10 000 000 tonnes CO2e. What can be said is that the internet is currently responsible for 2 percent of global carbon emissions, and this is because 80% of the energy used to run it comes from fossil fuels. This is basically the same amount as the emissions from the aviation sector! But let’s not forget, this also has to be put into perspective of the emissions that are avoided elsewhere – all the physical letters not sent thanks to emails and online bank services, just to give an example (although we all could probably reduce the number of emails we send and receive!).
Let’s start by saying that the carbon footprint of streaming is lower than driving to the cinema to watch a film there. This is not an argument to make people stop streaming, but to understand how our small actions add up to a big impact and that we should take responsibility – both for our own behavior, but also to encourage providers to do everything in their power to optimize operations.
A French think tank called the Shift Project first made some pretty horrifying calculations on this, estimating that watching 30 min of Netflix is equivalent to 1,6 kg of CO2 emissions. However, it seems like they based it on some wrong assumptions, as George Kamiya, Digital/Energy Analyst at the International Energy Association points out. According to his calculations and official IEA data, streaming a Netflix video in 2019 typically consumed 0.12-0.24kWh of electricity per hour, which is between 25 and 53 times less than the Shift Project estimation. So if we use the emission factor for the global average energy mix, that would give a carbon footprint of 0,028 – 0,057 kg (28 – 57 grams) CO2e for a 30 min Netflix session. Less than the carbon footprint of a banana!
So, it’s not actually that bad to watch Netflix (or, sending one email). However, we should consider how much traffic we generate, because it really does add up. Don’t leave things on in the background. If you listen to music, do so from a program that only gives you the music, and not the video stream (yeah, playing YouTube on another tab than the one you are watching is wasteful!). Pause videos that start just because you are scrolling on a page. Unsubscribe from all the newsletters that you don’t read anyway.
But more importantly, we need to make better IT design. How can we optimize data transfers? Do we need to send as much as we do? It will be both faster, cheaper and better for the environment if we can implement sustainable interaction design! Researchers from Bristol University suggested that digital waste could be reduced if YouTube stopped playing the video when the window isn’t open – and that this could save up to 500 000 tonnes of CO2e per year! And streamlining solutions like this one could potentially be found anywhere, helping us all to keep emissions from digitalization under control.
Do you work in IT? Could you design better systems to slim down the quantities of data that are being sent across the internet? Exciting challenges ahead of you!
GoClimateNeutral started out as a small side project with a big ambition, that took place as soon as the kids had fallen asleep, on weekends and holidays from regular jobs. Ideas saved as phone notes, lots of pitching to friends, and slowly putting the pieces together. Can we build a company offering a simple solution that makes a significant difference for the climate?
Three years later, the answer is clearly yes! We are currently 4500+ members, seven employees, and some 200+ companies on board who have together avoided the emission of 333,836 tonnes of CO2 – that’s so cool!
We are working hard to continuously improve the service, to make even more difference for the climate. As part of this, we have decided to change our name! We are dropping the “Neutral” to become GoClimate – a name we felt is more powerful and straightforward. Also because over time, we will need to do more than just become neutral – and our capacity to go beyond that is also growing.
This is the next step in our improvement process – we have already launched the updated version of the carbon footprint calculator, and we have more exciting things for you in the pipeline. All through, the service we provide remains the same – the monthly subscription is not changing, and the projects we invest in on your behalf are of the same star quality. We have expanded our work with companies and their offsetting, which gives a higher margin than what we charge from individual members. Thanks to that, we get more space to grow.
Climate change affects everyone, but it does not impact everyone in the same way or at the same time. That is why the fight against climate change should not be separated from the fight for justice and equality.
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are disproportionately affected by climate change, which is a consequence of global power structures with deep roots. White people are so used to this system which gives them almost limitless privilege, that it’s embarrassingly easy to assume that “it’s just how it is”. Opening our eyes to this profound injustice is not only well overdue, but an obligation if we want to have any chance of creating a sustainable society.
We all have our different entry points into the field of environment and climate change. For white people, some are genuinely convinced that this is a tragedy of large scale which needs to be addressed. But for many BIPOC, this is not some potential future threat – it is already lethal. And yet, it is so much harder for the affected communities to do work on these issues because firstly – they simultaneously have to work on fundamental justice issues. Secondly– their work and their testimonies are not given the same validity as those of white people, as a result of a global system built on white supremacy. This is not even considering factors like unequal access to education, discrimination when applying for jobs, etc. etc. All of these factors have to be acknowledged and changed.
It seems like black lives don’t matter, when you look at global climate policies. When we act like 2, 3, 4, 5 degrees global warming is ok, we are condemning people primarily in Africa, Asia and Small Island Nations to immense suffering and death. The message the policies send, is that indigenous lives don’t matter, when we prioritize to build oil pipelines across the last crumble of land they have. Likewise, it seems like immigrants’ lives don’t matter, when we build highways cutting through their communities (but make a tunnel under the affluent areas).
Black lives matter as much as anyone else’s, and we have to start acting like it. Not only when it comes to the justice system and police brutality, but on all levels of society. The climate movement has to become intersectional and we have to do a lot more to enable that change. We have already lost too many lives, wasted too much time, to white supremacy.
One concrete thing we need to become better at, is to let BIPOC voices be heard so they can represent themselves. We need to hear them out, in all spaces. So, if you want to know more about the intersection between climate change, racism and justice, we recommend the following articles:
There are different ways to calculate the carbon footprint of an individual. If you have tried out more than one calculator, you have probably noticed that the questions differ and so do the results. The quick answer to why this happens, is that it depends on which data the calculator is based off, and what assumptions are made. For the GoClimate calculator, we have explained the rationale between the choice of underlying data and the calculations that we base the tool on in the Methodology, which can be accessed HERE
If there is anything in the methodology that you find questionable, please reach out to us! Let us know if you disagree, have a better source of data for something, or how we could improve. The calculator will change over time because emission factors are updated regularly, which means that your result can change in the future. It could also change if we find better data or an even better way to calculate. These adjustments are however most likely minimal, and the biggest change is what you do yourself!
We calculate Food with general values from a UK study. Flights are calculated with our own API, and Car with emission factors provided by national sources (so that differs depending on where you are). Housing is using calculations based on national data on energy and electricity usage and national emission factors. Personal consumption, which is the clothes, furniture and other things you purchase, is based on a national average, weighted based on how much you purchase brand-new. To this we add a buffer for Public consumption which is infrastructure, hospitals, education etc.
Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Read the other posts in this series:
Civil disobedience is something that is not very common in Sweden, and is associated with being rowdy and uncompromising. Many believe that we have a well-functioning society where it is the individual’s duty to follow the law and maintain order. Can that be true, while there are also reasons to not comply? If so, could the climate be such an issue? We at GoClimate believe that the climate crisis is so big that we need to explore all ways to act on it, and with this post we want to inform about one method already applied, both to create understanding of it and at the same time inspire one another to find new ways to get engaged that suits everyone.
Civil disobedience is defined as the citizen’s active refusal to comply with a law or an order from the government, in order to change society. It is a non-violent method to highlight that something in society is morally wrong, and therefore one does not agree to be involved in it. Resorting to civil disobedience as a method can be seen as a last resort, when the formal paths to drive change have not worked.
What can be important to bear in mind when considering whether civil disobedience is a good or bad method of social change, is that it is difficult to imagine a change before it has happened. What would the United States look like without slavery? How would England work if women were allowed to vote? Today, we generally agree that slavery is wrong and voting rights are a right regardless of gender, and using that reasoning we must also assume that in a hundred years’ time our grandchildren will be living in a society that has undergone even more changes. Moreover, the pace of change seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down, so it is reasonable to believe that we are not living in the most highly developed form of a human society yet.
What has civil disobedience actually accomplished historically? Perhaps the most well-known example is Mahatma Ghandi’s struggle for India’s independence from British colonial power, which included a long march in which he broke the salt law. Another person who today is praised for her courage is Rosa Parks, who refused to leave her seat on the bus in Montgomery to let a white passenger sit. Women’s suffrage is another example of what has been accomplished, however that struggle did involve violence. It can thus be individuals as well as groups and movements who perform civil disobedience, but neither Ghandi nor Parks acted alone.
In 2018, Greta Thunberg sat down outside the Swedish Parliament to strike for the climate. She thus violated the Swedish Education Act, arguing “why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”. Greta is perhaps a special case in civil disobedience because she does not violate the law that she believes is the problem, but does so to raise another issue. We at GoClimate are convinced that Greta’s morality is right, and that we as a society must change to live in accordance with it. The fact that Greta is a child who is not going to school has undeniably been a thorn in the side for many around the world. The fact that she has become the front person of Fridays For Future, where millions of children around the world follow her example and strike from school, is both proof of the reach that civil disobedience can achieve and the seriousness that today’s children and young people feel about the climate issue.
Within the environmental movement, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion are two organizations that use civil disobedience to call for attention and push environmental issues. Greenpeace’s actions often target large companies and directly block operators from engaging in environmentally harmful activities, while Extinction Rebellion’s actions have instead intended to cripple society and influence the masses by blocking bridges and roads. Both organizations are considered controversial, although many believe that their work highlights major problems that we have to handle.
How you choose to engage yourself in the climate issue is your own choice, and we at GoClimate hope that we can contribute to a transition to a sustainable society as quickly as possible. Committing civil disobedience is a method that has had a major impact historically on important issues, and it is already part of the environment and climate movement. Civil disobedience continues to be a relevant option because it is clear that systemic changes are not occurring at the pace necessary to secure a habitable planet in the not too distant future.
Have you wondered what the climate footprint are for different ways to travel? How big is the difference between flying and taking the train? Now you can use our new travel emissions calculator to see the different emissions from different modes of transportation.
You can easily see that climate emissions from flying and petrol and diesel cars are a lot higher than going the same trip by train or an electric car. The difference between flying and train is quite mad when you start thinking of it.