Bulb Carbon Emissions Tracker

Hi @jdw

Yes, a pretty good score. Thanks for sharing.

And thanks for the passing thoughts. This is a pretty basic version but we’re keen to flesh it out to make it a more useful tool.

@“Bill at Bulb” is having a think about this so he’ll deffo be interested to hear your thoughts.

I was given 8.6 tons of CO2. I dont really understand this as my travel was 1107kg and my diet 1391kg per year and 0kg energy which to me makes about 2500kg per year! I am not sure where 8.6 tons comes from. When I put zero everything and vegan it still came up with 7.16 tonnes so it is not possible to reach the target.

Hi @greenman! Carbon Independent calculates that simply by living in the UK, you’ll have unavoidable emissions (for example, the NHS, Schools, social services etc. account for 1.1 tonnes of CO2 per person per year). On top of this, buying things like clothing, appliances etc will have additional carbon emissions.

Additionally, all dietary types will have a carbon footprint, as there will be emissions resulting from things like agriculture, transportation to shops etc. Each of the dietary types will have a range of possible impact (for instance, if you only buy locally produced seasonal food it will have a smaller footprint than imported food).

We’ve put the ‘baseline’ emissions (A vegan that walks to work using a fully carbon neutral energy supplier that hasn’t flown anywhere) at 7.16 tonnes per year (1.06 tonnes for the average vegan diet, and 6.1 tonnes of ‘unavoidable’ emissions [which is also averaged]). It’s still in it’s infancy, and there’s still lots of scope for fine-tuning it more, but with more detailed models, even if you have reduced everything you possibly can, emissions trackers will still get a total of around 3.5tonnes of CO2 per year.

If you’re on 8.6 tonnes as is, you’re already below what the UK is aiming for by 2020, which is great! you’re already doing a lot to help reduce your individual impact on the planet :slight_smile:

Sorry but I will have to disagree with your baseline starting point saying that by living in the UK we have unavoidable emissions. We all have choices and one of the reasons I joined Bulb was that there were zero emissions. I make a choice not to fly because of emissions, I holiday in the UK. I choose not to have a pet, be vegetarian, recycle, pick litter, support organisations that combat climate change etc. I do not go to school or use Social Services. I use the NHS very little (by choice). I use very little clothing a year and would not consider myself part of the fashion throw away way of doing things. I would certainly not like to put myself in with ‘the UK average’ To look at peoples carbon footprint I think you have to look on an individual basis otherwise very little is going to change and the climate crisis will just remain.
I am not sure what this simple tracker is for. Most people on here will be on zero emissions energy (Bulb) and will consequently probably be very well aware of their transport emissions. We also have to look at our carbon footprint elsewhere and maybe things we can do that can help us out of this climate emergency.

“one of the reasons I joined Bulb was that there were zero emissions.”

If you use the grid, there’s emissions involved, that’s not even debatable. Bulb pay for some renewable energy and some REGO certificates cover the rest.

This is worth a read

According to the Bulb carbon emissions tracker emissions are zero :slight_smile:

Hi @greenman - These are fair points. It’s probably impossible to be able to get all the additional things you do to help the environment and therefore reduce your score in the 11 questions we’ve asked. This tracker should have some use for everyone, as many people have no idea of the impact of choices we make as individuals, and this is a useful tool to show them what the impact of their habits are.

Much more in-depth calculators will still have ‘unavoidable’ emissions though, and even from the great steps you’ve taken to reduce your carbon footprint will still have unavoidable emissions associated with it.

Holidaying in the UK will still produce emissions, and your taxes that go towards paving new roads and building new buildings will still have a carbon footprint which is shared among all of us.

Being vegetarian will still have emissions (although over a tonne less than the average meat eater), as the food needs to be transported to a place accessible to you, will still often need to be packaged, and upkeep of the crops will have associated emissions.

Recycling still has emissions to transport recyclable content to recycling facilities, and then more emissions to re-utilise everything that you’ve recycled.

Water treatment into water that’s safe to drink has unavoidable emissions as well.

The choices you’ve personally made will have had a very significant impact on reducing your carbon footprint compared to the rest of the UK already, but it would be nearly impossible to achieve zero emissions.

Just by playing around with the tracker you can see how much of a difference you’ve made by choosing not to fly, eat meat, and choose a renewable supplier. It’s habits like these that we are hoping to encourage.


Can you explain where your figure of 6.1 tonnes of unavoidable emissions comes from. This BBC article: Are cities bad for the environment? - BBC News says

The European Commission calculates UK emissions at 5.7 tonnes per person. That ranks the UK as one of the lowest carbon emitters per person among major economies. The US produces 15.7 tonnes per resident, while China - despite being the world’s largest CO2 polluter - emits a mid-range 7.7 tonnes per person.

UK government statistics for 2017 place the average slightly lower, at 5.3 tonnes per head.

These surely include all emissions, not just unavoidable emissions.

A number of thoughts…

The questions regarding car use are a bit simplistic. you will compute the same footprint for a 1970’s muscle car as for a modern, economic city car whether it be petrol or diesel powered. I have a plug-in hybrid. Zero emissions for the first 35 miles in a day (provided I charge at home - who knows where the electricity from a commercial charger comes from?) and ~65mpg after that. Currently itg is averaging over 200mpg, but would be infinite if it wasn’t for a 100 mile round trip I do every 2 weeks or so. You could ask whether the car diesel or petrol, and whether the mpg achieved is known - and if not, use default assumptions.

Also, I have solar panels so am putting energy back into the grid - my carbon footprint for electricity usage is actually negative! You could ask about solar panels.

The question regarding flying is too simplistic. I have relatives who are about 4.5 hrs flying time away, and others in New Zealand. There is a massive difference in the carbon footprints between visiting the two sets of relatives. Also it is possible to carbon offset your flights. Does that count the same as using Bulb for your gas supply?; that also uses carbon offsetting to achieve carbon neutrality. (NB I take issue the gas being “renewable” - it isn’t unless the offsetting includes sequestering methane from the atmosphere).