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How big is your carbon footprint?

Everywhere people are talking about the carbon footprint. At the same time, most people in Germany are aware that we should reduce our own CO2 emissions as much as possible. But do we know in each individual case how much CO2 we actually emit? And how much would be okay? Do you know?

CO2 emissions per capita in Germany

The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) has published two infographics that we would like to share here, even if it is not entirely clear to which period the figures refer.


Carbon dioxide footprint per capita in Germany


It says: "The average CO₂e footprint per capita in Germany is 10.8 tonnes. 31 percent, or 2.2 tonnes, are attributable to other consumption. 2.2 tonnes relate to housing, 5 per cent to electricity and 20 per cent to mobility. In addition, 1.7 tonnes per capita result from food and 0.8 tonnes from public infrastructure in general. The climate target sets a footprint of less than one tonne of CO₂e per capita in Germany." (Source, text below first image)

And the second graphic:

Halve the carbon footprint


It says: "With the help of the Big Points, it is possible to halve the footprint. To save 0.3 tonnes of CO₂e, it makes sense to use an economy shower head. By not flying you can save 0.5 and by using your car less you can save one tonne. Insulating the living space also contributes to a reduction of 0.5 tonnes. A plant-based diet also reduces the footprint by half a tonne. Switching to green electricity and more conscious consumption can save a total of two and a half tonnes of CO₂e." (Source, text below second image)

The situation in the EU

We found figures for the EU for 2020 at the Federal Environment Agency. Even though the figures are from the first pandemic year and one can therefore rightly wonder whether they are not somewhat lower than usual, they show the overall situation within the EU quite well:

Greenhouse gas emissions of the European Union in comparison 2020 - Per capita emissions
image source

In addition, the following information can be found there: "In 2020, the EU-27 produced a total of around 3,298 million tonnes (mt) of greenhouse gases in carbon dioxide (CO₂)-equivalents (see tab. "Greenhouse gas emissions of the European Union"). Germany, France, Italy and Poland together caused about 57 % of these. Germany alone already contributed over 22 %. [...] If one relates the greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to the respective populations, the quantities caused lie between Malta with only 4.1 tonnes (t) of CO2 equivalents per capita and Luxembourg with 14.4 t of carbon dioxide equivalents per capita. France and Italy are at the lower end with about 5.8 and 6.4 t respectively, Poland with 9.9 t and Germany with 8.8 t of carbon dioxide equivalents per capita are in the middle [...]. The per capita amount for the EU-27 as a whole is 7.4 t." (Source)

And what about you?

Statistics and averages are of course all well and good, but from our point of view they are first and foremost information for orientation. Ultimately, everyone has to ask themselves what the situation is like in their own case, and statistics are only of limited help here. What can be very helpful, however, is a carbon footprint calculator. There are now quite a few on the internet. We do not recommend those that allow you to offset CO2 emissions immediately afterwards, as we see a conflict of interest with the provider in question and you cannot be sure that you are not paying more than necessary. We have selected three for you, of which we have the feeling that you can go there with a clear conscience. In principle, it also makes sense to try out several, as the calculators sometimes ask the same questions differently and there are differences here and there in the approach to the topic.

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