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Carbon Neutral vs. Carbon Negative

Even if everyone in the developed world became Carbon Neutral the legacy of pollution and the growing emissions from developing countries would still mean increasing CO2 levels. Just becoming Carbon Neutral will not be enough to save our planet.

As an example: India's population of over 1 billion people currently emit 1.2 tonnes per head per year. As India becomes more developed (more electricity, cars, construction, industry etc.) it will inevitably emit more CO2. If these levels (per head) were to reach those of the UK, then India's CO2 would have grown by over 8x. It is natural for the developing world to crave the same standards of life as the developed world and it seems highly likely that this will bring with it similar CO2 levels. It is unfair to expect the developing world to bear the brunt of the costs necessary to minimise CO2 pollution as it focuses upon its immediate needs - such as raising healthcare standards. Accordingly we need to lead the way and ensure we do more and not only take out our own CO2, but also counter our proportion of the CO2 pollution from the rest of the world. If everyone in the developed world became carbon Neutral, the growth in carbon from other countries will just wipe this out, we need to become carbon negative.

As the developed world is approximately 1.1 billion people and the undeveloped world approximately 5.7 billion, it is obvious that you will need to counter the CO2 of more than 5x your own CO2 to have any impact. After much research and thought we concluded that to counteract 10x your own CO2 pollution would be a good start. If you are a UK resident and go the Carbon Negative x10 route then you counter the Carbon pollution from yourself and nine other UK residents, or you could look at it as countering the Carbon pollution of many hundreds of people from an undeveloped country. Hopefully you can see the logic that Carbon Neutral approaches will not be enough.

The only way to reverse the damage of global warming is to become carbon negative.
If you care about the planet and the world you are creating for your children then you will have already started to reduce your carbon footprint and we have an ever developing list of things you can do to reduce your pollution in our
Ideas to reduce your Carbon Footprint section. Even if you followed all of the advice you will still be responsible for pumping out many tons of CO2 into our planet's atmosphere. The table below gives an indication of how much CO2 we are polluting the planet as an average per person each year. These numbers are based upon an average from a number of studies as scientists have yet to agree a universally agreed method of calculating a carbon footprint.

UK
9.8 tonnes (9,800 kg's)
USA
20.6 tonnes (20,600 kg's)
India
1.2 tonnes (1,200 kg's)

 

 

 

Four years ago we started to actively reduce our carbon footprint and two years ago reached the limit of major practical reductions we could achieve. We still slowly reduce our CO2 emissions, but realised we will never get it down anywhere near to zero unless we could do something to take CO2 from the atmosphere. We started to investigate the option of doing this - it is now called Carbon offsetting and found that it was a confusing and unregulated area.

See our pages on Carbon Offsetting and why you should avoid almost all of them.