How can I reduce my carbon footprint? Tips on lowering your carbon emissions to help slow climate change

A major report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) has warned that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented ways

News surrounding climate change can be overwhelming and sometimes hard to understand.

When it comes to future impacts on the planet, there’s still a lot of uncertainty.

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A landmark report was published by the UN on August 9 which supports that global warming is “unequivocally” being driven by human activity.

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The major study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate science, paints a grim picture but leaves some room for hope that the worst consequences can still be avoided through bold action.

Scientists estimate that the world will reach or exceed temperature rises of 1.5C over the next two decades, the limit set by the Paris Climate agreement, with further rises extremely likely without rapid action to reduce emissions.

Experts have warned that we should think about cutting down air travel (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

While bigger decisions to lessen the global impact of climate change lies largely in the hands of scientists and governments, there are choices each of us can be making each day to reduce our own impact on the world.

Even small actions we take as individuals will help in the fight against global warming.

Here's everything you need to know about reducing your carbon footprint.

What is my carbon footprint?

Here is ten easy steps to follow in order to lower our individual carbon footprints (image: NationalWorld/Kimberley Mogg)

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that is generated by our own actions, or by an organisation.

Greenhouse gases trap heat into the atmosphere which subsequently plays a part in overheating the planet.

To make a difference to greenhouse gas emissions you need to think about how much carbon emissions you’re responsible for creating.

But by making small changes to our actions we can start making a big difference.

Vegan diets are widely regarded to be better for the planet than those that include meat and fish (image: Shutterstock)

How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

Things to consider to reduce your carbon footprint start at home.

Experts at Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions agree that cutting down on less meat and taking up a vegan diet is likely to be best for the environment. Even swapping out beef - which gives off more than six pounds of carbon dioxide per serving - to chicken or fish can make a difference.

Cutting down on single use plastics, by reusing carrier bags and buying reusable drinks bottles and straws, is so much better for the planet and recycling our waste in the right places.

Single-use plastic is not biodegradable and doesn’t rot down. Instead, about eight million tonnes end up in oceans, potentially harming sea life.

Other big changes to our carbon footprint can be made by adapting how we travel. Reducing the number of flights we take could significantly shrink the size of our carbon footprint and switching to an electric powered car, taking public transport more and using less petrol and diesel.

Meanwhile, heating and cooling your house efficiently and ensuring it is well insulated is another effective way to reduce your footprint, as is using sustainable energy sources such as solar or wind and renewable based heating.

What we wear can also have a large impact on sustainability. By wearing vintage, donating old clothes, buying wool over synthetic materials and buying clothing with the fairtrade logos can become more environmentally friendly.

How do I calculate my carbon footprint?

We are all consumers of travel, consumerism, food and drink.

As such, we are accountable to some degree for the pressures which our consumption puts on the environment.

However it is difficult to work out exactly how much we individually contribute to climate change.You can calculate your carbon footprint using the government’s calculator.