Methodology behind the carbon footprint calculator

There are different ways to calculate the carbon footprint of an individual. If you have tried out more than one calculator, you have probably noticed that the questions differ and so do the results. The quick answer to this is that it depends on which data the calculator is based off, and what assumptions are made. For the GoClimate calculator, we have explained the rationale between the choice of underlying data and the calculations that we base the tool on in the Methodology, which can be accessed HERE

If there is anything in the methodology that you find questionable, please reach out to us! Let us know if you disagree, have a better source of data for something, or how we could improve. The calculator will change over time because emission factors are updated regularly, which means that your result can change in the future. It could also change if we find better data or an even better way to calculate. These adjustments are however most likely minimal, and the biggest change is what you do yourself!

We calculate Food with general values from a UK study, Flights are calculated with our own API, Car with emission factors provided by national sources (so that differs depending on where you are), and Housing are the most complex calculations based on national data on energy and electricity usage and national emission factors. To this, we add a national average for Personal consumption which is the clothes, furniture and other things you purchase, and a buffer for Public consumption which is infrastructure, hospitals, education etc.

Go to our main page to try the calculator for yourself – and compare your result to your national average!

Civil disobedience for the climate?

Civil disobedience is something that is not very common in Sweden, and is associated with being rowdy and uncompromising. Many believe that we have a well-functioning society where it is the individual’s duty to follow the law and maintain order. Can that be true, while there are also reasons to not comply? If so, could the climate be such an issue? We at GoClimateNeutral believe that the climate crisis is so big that we need to explore all ways to act on it, and with this post we want to inform about one method already applied, both to create understanding of it and at the same time inspire one another to find new ways to get engaged that suits everyone.

Civil disobedience is defined as the citizen’s active refusal to comply with a law or an order from the government, in order to change society. It is a non-violent method to highlight that something in society is morally wrong, and therefore one does not agree to be involved in it. Resorting to civil disobedience as a method can be seen as a last resort, when the formal paths to drive change have not worked.

Peaceful demonstration against climate change

What can be important to bear in mind when considering whether civil disobedience is a good or bad method of social change, is that it is difficult to imagine a change before it has happened. What would the United States look like without slavery? How would England work if women were allowed to vote? Today, we generally agree that slavery is wrong and voting rights are a right regardless of gender, and using that reasoning we must also assume that in a hundred years’ time our grandchildren will be living in a society that has undergone even more changes. Moreover, the pace of change seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down, so it is reasonable to believe that we are not living in the most highly developed form of a human society yet.

What has civil disobedience actually accomplished historically? Perhaps the most well-known example is Mahatma Ghandi’s struggle for India’s independence from British colonial power, which included a long march in which he broke the salt law. Another person who today is praised for her courage is Rosa Parks, who refused to leave her seat on the bus in Montgomery to let a white passenger sit. Women’s suffrage is another example of what has been accomplished, however that struggle did involve violence. It can thus be individuals as well as groups and movements who perform civil disobedience, but neither Ghandi nor Parks acted alone.

More and more people gather to demonstrate for a societal change towards a sustainable planet

In 2018, Greta Thunberg sat down outside the Swedish Parliament to strike for the climate. She thus violated the Swedish Education Act, arguing “why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”. Greta is perhaps a special case in civil disobedience because she does not violate the law that she believes is the problem, but does so to raise another issue. We at GoClimateNeutral are convinced that Greta’s morality is right, and that we as a society must change to live in accordance with it. The fact that Greta is a child who is not going to school has undeniably been a thorn in the side for many around the world. The fact that she has become the front person of Fridays For Future, where millions of children around the world follow her example and strike from school, is both proof of the reach that civil disobedience can achieve and the seriousness that today’s children and young people feel about the climate issue.

Within the environmental movement, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion are two organizations that use civil disobedience to call for attention and push environmental issues. Greenpeace’s actions often target large companies and directly block operators from engaging in environmentally harmful activities, while Extinction Rebellion’s actions have instead intended to cripple society and influence the masses by blocking bridges and roads. Both organizations are considered controversial, although many believe that their work highlights major problems that we have to handle.

How you choose to engage yourself in the climate issue is your own choice, and we at GoClimateNeutral hope that we can contribute to a transition to a sustainable society as quickly as possible. Committing civil disobedience is a method that has had a major impact historically on important issues, and it is already part of the environment and climate movement. Civil disobedience continues to be a relevant option because it is clear that systemic changes are not occurring at the pace necessary to secure a habitable planet in the not too distant future.

No matter what you do with your time and engagement, you can always combine that with compensating for your carbon footprint through us at GoClimateNeutral. This way, you can do as much good as possible for the climate!

The best climate-related podcasts – GoClimateNeutral recommendations!

We at GoClimateNeutral listen a lot to podcasts! It’s a brilliant way to learn new things, when sometimes it can be demanding or impractical to read books and some of us actually get restless by watching movies. In addition, it is nice to be accompanied by someone who talks to you when you are out walking, cooking or just being alone at home. So now we thought we’d share our top tips on podcasts about the climate!

All you need to get deep into a podcast!

Note that the Swedish version of this post has more recommendations to podcasts in Swedish, and links to the podcast episodes that feature our founders Kalle and Cissi!

There is a Swedish podcast called Klimatpodden which also features episodes in English. However, it’s not possible to filter for them, so you have to do some digging. But it might be worth the effort – the episode with Kevin Anderson was what convinced Cissi to stop flying! The podcast is arranged in interview format, where you get to listen to inspiring people ranging from researchers and politicians to entrepreneurs and activists who are engaged in fighting climate change. It really shows that anyone and everyone can and should do what they can to help the climate!

A tip from Kalle is the podcast My Climate Journey by Jason Jacobs, a software developer who sold his successful company (Runkeeper) and was looking for deeper meaning to life when he stumbled upon climate change. In his quest to understand the issue he talked to many experts, and those interactions developed into a podcast where we can jointly learn about the subject and get inspiration for what we can do to contribute to the solution.

Tove recommends The Wardrobe Crisis – a podcast for those interested in fashion and who want to know more about how fashion and culture are related to sustainability, ethics, activism and the environment. It’s so inspiring to see people who are willing to drive change within their industry! And there are many episodes for those who are not trend geeks too 🙂

If you instead are very interested in the energy issue (or have a specific query), it might be worth listening to The Interchange about the global energy transition! It was recommended to us by a friend who works with renewable energy – gracias! 🙂

Another one of the more niche podcasts out there is Resources Radio on the topic environmental economics, with episodes on global emissions trading and how the oil market is affected by COVID-19. Great source if you want to understand the interconnection between the climate and the global market, which can be super hard to grasp on your own.

A broader approach to topics in the environmental field is offered by the BBC podcast Costing the Earth. It deals with current issues discussed by leading experts who are working for a cleaner and greener planet. If you want to know more about how COVID-19 affects the climate, plastics, or what would happen if the whole UK went vegan, this is the podcast for you!

Alexandra and Emma are both very fond of the Swedish radio show SRs Sommar & Vinter i P1, where selected Swedes get one hour to talk about whatever they want. One of our idols in the climate field, the world renowned scientist Johan Rockström, made an episode that is just perfect about this – and it is available in English!

We also have a recommendation from a member of our community, who shared Not Cool – A Climate Podcast with us! Thanks a lot! It’s an American podcast which digs deep into serious aspects of climate change, such as tipping points, national security and information gaps. We will definitely give this one a try!

Isn’t it impossible to get bored when there is so much to listen to! What are your best climate podcast recommendations? Leave a comment to your community!

When it sucks to be eco-friendly (and why we choose it anyway)

In the sustainability movement, we are a dedicated bunch who choose to complicate our lives out of the conviction that it is necessary to make the world a better place. Then, we try to make the non-believers join us by convincing them that it’s fun and easy, and you save money too! Right?! It is an appealing narrative and there is definitely truth to it, but we who try to break new ground also get exhausted from walking through a jungle of resistance.

My old laptop was giving up on me. I had bought it in 2013, and have carried it across continents, literally. It had worked in the heat in southern Africa, in the hights of the Andean mountains and in the dampness of Brussels. I had already replaced the screen (I bought a replacement on Amazon and had my friend perform surgery on it for hours) and exchanged the battery once, but I could no longer resuscitate it.

I was offered to buy a Macbook second hand from a friend, some nine months ago. And he had told me there was some issue with the keyboard but he also gave me a discount to account for that. So I paid 2500 sek (approx 250 usd) for the computer, knowing that a repair could add another 2000 sek (200 usd). I was happy to have found a second hand computer, knowing that the production and mining for minerals is a dirty business that I don’t want to support if I can avoid it. Sure, the computer was old, but in good condition and given that I am not a heavy user, I thought I’d be fine.

Working on the train and using the accessibility keyboard to compensate for the broken buttons

When I started working for GoClimateNeutral a few months later, they asked me if I needed a computer. But as I had just gotten the Macbook, what was the point of buying another one? That would totally defy my purpose of trying to save resources.

I was fine, for a little while. Then, the number buttons stopped working. Given that a lot of my work is done in Excel, this became a big hindrance. I prayed that it would go away, but of course it didn’t and I had to hand it in for service. It took them some 10 days, but they exchanged some parts and charged me 2280 sek (230 usd) and I thought, ok, now I’m fine. Except the problem came back the following week and now I’m being charged another 2200 sek (220 usd) to replace another part. Adding it up, it’s costing almost as much as a new Macbook, and I am now on my third week of working on a borrowed laptop that is… far from ideal.

About a year ago, I broke my beloved Kindle reading tablet. Living abroad, I used it a lot to read books I couldn’t get hold of in store. I still spent 6 months trying to figure out if I could fix it (warranty expired), if it was worth ordering a new screen from Hong Kong, if I could buy a second hand one (the guy in the sales group ghosted me when I asked too many questions so I’m guessing it might have been stolen)… In then end, I found that Amazon actually sells refurbished items. I ordered one from there but since they don’t ship to Sweden, I had it sent to a friend in the UK. Once I could pick it up, turns out the model I had ordered (the only one available) is older than the one I was used to and it has no back light, which seriously reduces the usability for me… so I actually read less now than I did before.

When I used to go to cafés to read on my kindle and drink matcha latte

All of this leaves me with frustration and a bitter taste. I wish I did not have to deal with this, but electronics have become a necessity in society. My argument to keep pushing for this is that I genuinely believe that to make the world a better place, it is my duty to act in accordance with my values especially when it is uncomfortable. Change is not just gonna happen, someone has to do it. Someone has to create a demand for those second hand products, for the replacement parts, for the service centers. I’m that someone.

So now that my phone is becoming too tired to handle new apps, and I have spent the winter in Stockholm freezing my fingers off waiting for the maps to load, I’m searching for a second hand one. I’m hopeful about the Swedish company Inrego who sells second hand, refurbished electronics, and I’m consulting my tech-savvy colleague. Because that is who I am – the hippie eco-warrior who choose discomfort to live in harmony with my values and the hope to make the world a better place. Please join me.

Our team is growing and doing more good for the climate than ever before!

We have recently almost doubled the number of team members at GoClimateNeutral, with three new co-creators that allow us to proceed even faster and more efficiently towards our goal of creating a better tomorrow and a healthier planet.

Alexandra Palmquist is GoClimateNeutral’s climate advisor who came to us from the United Nations Development Programme in Bolivia, where she worked on climate and environmental projects. Previous positions include the European Commission in Belgium and the NGO We Effect, where Alexandra was stationed in Mozambique. Alexandra will work with measuring and reducing both individual and corporate climate impacts, and review of the climate projects we finance. Outside of work Alexandra recharges her energy by going running or dancing tango!

Tove Westling is the founder of the London-based PR agency VARG, which has worked with the establishment of brands such as Dagmar, DAY Birger et Mikkelsen, Filippa K, CDLP and Samsøe Samsøe on the British market. Tove has also been responsible for the agency’s focus on sustainability, and managed Vestiaire Collective’s PR in Scandinavia. With us, she works primarily with increasing climate commitment both locally in Scandinavia and globally. Beyond the climate issue, Tove’s heart is pounding for animal rights, above all with a commitment to stray dogs around the world.

Emma Bäckström is a trained civil engineer in media technology at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and has most recently worked as a developer at Mentimeter. At GoClimateNeutral, in addition to development, she also works with user experience and product development of our web service. In addition to saving the world, Emma wants to pet dogs and go running in the woods!

Besides the fact that we find it so exciting to have a living, growing team, we are extremely happy about what climate benefits this entails – as we can see that the number of co-creators is directly related to how much difference we make for the benefit of the climate. In 2017 we contributed to 660 avoided tonnes of CO2e per co-creator, in 2018 18, 000 avoided tonnes and in 2019 36,670 avoided tonnes per co-creator. We look forward to expanding the team further in 2020 and thus make even more positive difference!

Belen Wind Power Plant

We have now offset another 50,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!

Renewable energy has to make up a larger share of the market globally, which is why we are now financing the Belen Wind Project in Turkey. The major purpose of the project activity is providing electricity from renewable sources to the rapidly growing Turkish electricity market.

The project is expected to generate about 135,000 MWh of electricity per year and prevent approximately 74,444 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually compared to the baseline scenario. Even though wind is increasing in Turkey, there is a heavy reliance on fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and the share of natural gas has grown to reach the same proportion as the other sources. We want to finance this kind of projects to show that there is support for sustainable energy, and spread awareness of the feasibility of better alternatives.

This project consists of an installation of 16 wind turbines, each having a capacity of 3000 kW, in Belen, on the Southeast Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The wind farm provides a total capacity of 48MW and is connected to the national grid. The project employs state of the art technology and installed high capacity 3MW turbines instead of 1.5MW turbines that used to be installed in the earlier days of wind energy developments in Turkey. These new turbines enable better use of the wind potential with a reduced project footprint area, minimising the impact on the natural environment.

It is worth mentioning that if not prepared and designed properly, wind energy can have negative environmental impacts. This is why it is important to do a so-called Environmental Impact Assessment. As we purchase credits from projects certified by Gold Standard, there has been a rigorous control of the risks as all projects have to comply with the “Safeguarding Principles and Requirements” . This covers human rights, gender issues, corruption, water and land use, and other potential impacts. Another important part of the project preparation is the stakeholder consultation, which is also documented in Project Design Document. 

For this project in particular, it is described in the Project Design Document that ”…some trees will be cut in order to enlarge the road to the site and to clear the surroundings of the turbines. However; it was assured that new plantation will be done in return by local Forestry Management”. Other issues addressed in the preparation phase was the concern for bird migration in the area, and potential impact from waste and water usage during the construction phase. Having this information available is mandatory, and is how we know we can trust the project. It allows for accountability, so that we can hold the project developer responsible for the impacts and mitigation measures. 

More information about this project in the Gold Standard registry (including verification and monitoring reports) HERE

See our retired credits HERE, HERE and HERE

Sidrap Wind Energy Project

We have now offset another 25,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for making this happen!

This time, your contributions are funding the first ever wind farm in Indonesia. With 30 wind turbines reaching a total capacity of 75 MW, it is also the largest wind farm in all of South East Asia. Through this project, we are supporting Indonesia and its island Sulawesi to see beyond fossil fuels and stimulate both the development of the electricity grids and the national politics in a climate-positive direction.

Indonesia is a country that depends heavily on fossil fuels for its energy production. That in itself is not unique, but given its large population of 264 million, it is remarkable that there has been no wind power at all – until now. The potential for renewable energies in Indonesia is massive, estimated to 14 times their current demand. However, the country has very cheap coal, which sells domestically for less than the global market price, so the economic incentive for renewable energy is weak. In cases like these, the possibility to finance the development with sales of CO2-credits can be one solution to implement green energy projects.

This project has several benefits – Indonesians will now be able to see the positive impact of the wind power for themselves and we are proving the feasibility of this energy source in a local context. The project will also stimulate capacity development, as locals are recruited for the construction and operation of the facility. This breaking of new ground will facilitate for future wind energy projects. Moreover, it puts pressure on the development of the grids to become more flexible and interconnected, so that the electricity can be distributed in an efficient way.

The capital of Indonesia had a major power blackout earlier this year, highlighting the need for grid flexibility and a robust energy system. The politicians in Indonesia have also made a point to set the national target for renewable energy to 23% for 2025, which is twice as much renewables as in 2018 and therefore a significant contribution to the common goal of the Paris Agreement. Impressive! We hope that this is the first of many wind power plants in Indonesia, and are happy to see that there is already another one being built on the same island.

More information about this project in the Gold Standard registry (including verification and monitoring reports) HERE

See our retired credits HERE and HERE

New Year’s Climate Resolution

2020 is just around the corner, and it has to be the year we all step up our efforts to stop climate change!

This needs to be a year of massive action, on all levels. Of course, we are all hoping for radical climate policy on national level, but we also have to be part of the transition on an individual level. That way, we signal to both politicians and big business that we are serious about wanting change! And we need to move towards minimal CO2 lifestyles, as fast as possible.

I have always travelled a lot, and it is a major part of my identity. The world is such a glorious place and I am so curious to experience it! I am convinced that it has helped me become both more informed about the complexities of today, but also more compassionate towards others. This, however, has had a massive CO2 footprint. Only in 2019, my flight emissions were 3,19 tonnes of CO2e.

Feeling regret about our past emissions is hardly helpful. We need to start somewhere, and it is never too late to do better. But if we want to stop climate change, we need to start now!

Therefore, my new years climate resolution is to stay on the ground to keep fossil fuels in the ground! I am keen to explore my more immediate surroundings by train, foot and other climate friendly means of transportation. After all, travelling in Sweden and Europe has a lot to offer! On top of that, knowing how many tonnes of CO2 I can keep from getting into the atmosphere is definitely a good motivation.

On a train through Austria in 2017. Those landscapes!

Kalle is already standing steadily with both feet on the ground! So his commitment to the climate and the environment for 2020 is to not buy any new electronics or clothes! The GoClimateNeutral blog has posts about electronics and sustainable fashion if you want some inspiration to join Kalle on his journey. A pair of jeans is estimated to emit 6 kg CO2eq, whereas a 15-inch MacBook Pro is 560 kg CO2eq – and that is not considering the potential pollution and ethical concerns regarding mining for minerals.

Cissi has worked a lot on her own emission sources, and for 2020 she wants to, at least, participate at twice as many climate strikes compared to 2019 and have a larger impact on her surroundings by influencing her tenant owners’ association. By talking to her neighbours, she is aiming to take the lead to make the apartment block more sustainable. That way, they can make collective decisions (perhaps some solar panels?) but also she can reach individuals in her immediate surrounding and lead by example.

Evelina wants to focus on food and soil health for 2020. She wants to lower her food waste, eat more locally produced and learn more about regenerative farming.

Our collaborator Marlena has decided to “be a more annoying customer” – to ask at the restaurant if they have sustainable (MSC certified) fish, if the taxi company has electric cars, etc. By doing so, she will voice the demand for sustainable offers from customers to service providers. Doing so, in a positive and encouraging way! Take the lead!

Are you also staying on the ground in 2020? What is your pledge for a cooler future? Let us know and join us in being part of the solution!

Svilosa Biomass Project

We have now offset another 50,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this! Our most recent offsetting is a biomass project connected to the Svilosa pulp mill in Bulgaria, where the operations have been improved in order to use their waste for biofuels. Through this project, the biomass residues from the pulp production (mainly bark) are combusted in a specially designed biomass boiler to generate thermal energy in the form of water steam. This heat is then used directly in the production of the pulp, and thus the mill avoids buying energy from a nearby coal power plant, which they did before. The capacity of the biomass boiler is 19.732 MW (thermal). This is an interesting project to finance because it is very clear exactly how much coal power we are avoiding, and it gives us maximum assurance that the amount CO2 avoided is accurate. The paper industry is very energy-intensive, so we can achieve significant impact by helping them transition to a more climate-smart production. Moreover, given the current state of consumption, many people concerned with the environment want to reduce the use of plastic. Paper is seen as a better alternative, which is why we think it is a particularly suitable industry to finance the transition of. Finally, this development is today classified as the best available technology, which means that we are helping this pulp become as modern and efficient as possible. The pulp plant use FSC-labeled wood in its production, which indicates that they take a broader environmental responsibility, and they have also continued to invest in energy-efficient production after this effort. Another exciting aspect is that paper production is one of the industries where there is potential for developing so-called CCS technology, Carbon Capture and Storage, so that the plants can avoid even more emissions from the production. When the project started, it was seen as an investment that would not have happened without this support from climate credits. This is what we denominate additionality when climate projects are being developed. Much has happened both in Bulgaria and globally since then with different national commitments and the development of international climate policy. We see this project as part of this transition process and something that we want to encourage. This factory is the only one of its kind in the region and it is valuable that they maintain a high standard as that sends the right signals both to neighbouring countries and to the EU. A sustainable industry also creates jobs and contributes positively to the country’s economy.

More information about this project in the Gold Standard registry (including verification and monitoring reports) HERE Our retired credits: https://registry.goldstandard.org/credit-blocks/details/58599 https://registry.goldstandard.org/credit-blocks/details/58600 https://registry.goldstandard.org/credit-blocks/details/58601