Which carbon footprint calculator to use?, 24°

Matthew W. 536°

As there are so many out there in the internet, I'm not sure which ones are the best to use and why. Does anyone know?

I'm guessing different ones will be better for different locations/types of carbon use too. Can anyone provide a high level breakdown of these too?

9 replies

I did an experiment once and tested myself on 8 different calculators, and got 8 different footprints, between 1.5 and 9 tonnes of carbon! In other words, we don't really have any standardized ways of measuring these things.
I'd point UK readers to the government one at http://actonco2.direct.gov.uk, but since you need one that works in your own currency and context, that won't work for everyone.
Ultimately, it's like counting calories - we all know which foods are bad for us, and what actions harm the climate. Let's stop trying to put numbers on things, and just do less of those actions.
See here for the comparison of all 8 calculators:

Written in June 2008

2 people think this is a cool reply

John F.

I'll add another carbon calculator to the discussion: http://www.3degreesinc.com/carbon_calculator/. (disclosure: I work for 3Degrees). Jeremy's CO2 calculations are all different because each calculator is has a different scope. When developing a calculator, this is the hardest task and is the largest variable. Many calculators limit the scope to only the larges sources to increase ease of use (and adoption) like 3Dergrees'. Others calcs broaden the scope to include diet and other sources but are more difficult to use. The value of this increased precision, in my opinion, is dubious. At the end of the day this isn't rocket science we just want to get a sense of relativity. Calculating the biggest carbon culprits like electricity and travel does this just fine.

Written in June 2008

2 people think this is a cool reply

Matthew W. 536°

cool - thanks for this guys. The issue I find though is that depending on which country you live in, you have different amounts of carbon assigned to the same action. For example, if I use a British carbon calculator, the same action (driving a 1.9 litre engined car, for example) has a different amount of carbon production assigned to it than one use for the US and enter the same data. Surely if people don't trust the data they're getting back, then the carbon calculator simply isn't going to be used as a measuring stick by anyone because they think they all give incorrect readings??

Written in June 2008

The only carbon calcultor you really need to use is look to see if the ice caps are still melting. If they are, keep trying to do the best you can wherever you can. Any other caluclator is just subjective and bogged down with insignificant detail, IMHO.

Written in June 2008

Matthew and Jeremy are not U.S. You guys use the term calculator as though its been around a long time and everyone uses it. Here in the U.S. people don't even try to calculate their carbon footprint. They say their lowering their carbon footprint . . . but how can they lower it if they don't know what it is or what behavior affects it.

All we get here is companies, like MSN, using GREENSPEAK and making consumers think they (consumers and companies) are changing the world. We have a long way to go......! Sowinergy

Written in July 2008

Harald K. 35°

I would recommend the one by the WWF, here:


I found this from Jeremy William's link, by the way. It's not a carbon footprint calculator, but an assessment of ecological footprint. Carbon emissions is not all that matters.

I have no illusions that it's strictly speaking _accurate_, but I trust the WWF to have a reasonably good sense of proportions.

Written in July 2008

Theo M.

This home energy monitor is the best to calculate the carbon footprints I reckon. This product is useful both financially and environmentally to calculate and conserve the carbon footprints. This is the simplest and easiest to operate.



Written in September 2010

Such a very amazing link!

Written in September 2010

I didn't find out answer of this question and Really I am not aware about something about it . but Now, It has become important for me to know . Tell me something about it..I hope, you will not disappoint me.

Written in September 2010

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Matt Cooper

United States, United States