How we calculate your carbon footprint

Published by Georgia Crump on

In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at how we calculate your carbon footprint and what you can do to offset it.

What is a carbon footprint

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon emissions associated with your lifestyle. Almost every activity that we do in our daily lives releases carbon into the atmosphere. Some, such as flying, eating red meat, and driving a large petrol car produce a lot of emissions. Being aware of your carbon footprint and how you can reduce it is the first step towards improving your impact on the environment.

Read more: Understanding your carbon footprint.

How is your carbon footprint calculated?

How often do you fly? Do you own a car? What kind of electricity do you have at home? How often do you eat red meat and animal products? Your answers to these questions will have an impact on the size of your carbon footprint.

The Treepoints Calculator

To help you work out your carbon footprint, we have a handy Treepoints carbon calculator.

Based on where you live, how often you fly, how you get about, and your diet, we can calculate an estimate of your annual carbon footprint. You can then see this compared to the average for your country, and how much you could offset with the most popular Treepoints offsetting plan.

Why does the average carbon footprint vary from country to country?

As any source will show you, the average carbon footprint varies from country to country. This is in part because the kind of lifestyles people have varies. For example in the United States and Australia, the average citizen releases more CO2 per month than the average person in Nigeria and India does in a year. However it is also affected by your country’s energy consumption, including what kind of energy sources your country uses (fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables), and how much your country imports and exports. 

CountryCO2 emissions (metric tonnes per person)
United States16.6
United Kingdom5.6
Source: Our world in data (2018) (

Who’s accountable?

There is some debate internationally concerning how to account for import and export CO2 emissions. For example, if you live in the UK and you order a fridge that has been made in China, there will be CO2 emissions from the factory, and from international transportation. Some people add these emissions to China’s emissions because this is the country where the greenhouse gases are released. Others add these to the UK, arguing that if it wasn’t for the demand then the emissions would not have been created in the first place. 

How much does it cost to offset my carbon footprint?

As you will have gathered by now, the size of your carbon footprint depends on your lifestyle choices. This means the cost of offsetting it will vary as well. 

The average carbon footprint in the UK is around 5.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year per person.* This will go up if you fly regularly, eat lots of red meat and drive a petrol-guzzling car. It will go down if you eat a plant-based diet, don’t fly and get around by bike. 

*This number varies depending on whether you take into account consumption emissions. This includes emissions from products that were produced in a different country to the one they are consumed in. For more information about this, we recommend this helpful article from our friends at Our World in Data.

The Treepoints formula 

At Treepoints, we aim to make it as simple as possible for you to do good for the environment by offsetting your carbon footprint. 

Based on the average carbon footprint for the country you live in, you have a choice of four tiers, depending on your lifestyle and how much CO2 you wish to offset.

The more regularly that you fly, consume animal products, and rely on carbon-intense activities, the larger your carbon footprint. You should subscribe to one of our larger plans if this applies to you, or if you wish to offset more than one person.

As well as offsetting, make every effort to reduce your reliance on air travel and work towards living a low carbon lifestyle. We’ve got plenty of advice on reducing your carbon footprint for individuals and for businesses.

Breaking down the numbers

Our plans include a small margin to cover you for those last minute flights, that new fridge and those long drives, all of which release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. Why settle for carbon neutral when you can offset your whole footprint or even slightly more to be carbon negative!

Your estimated carbon offset to date

To help you visualise the good work that your carbon offsetting is doing, we show you an equivalent in long-haul flights, kilograms of steak and citizens for life. 

Trips from Paris to NY ✈️

A one way trip from Paris to New York produces approximately 0.946 tonnes of CO2 per passenger. This is almost twice the average monthly CO2 emissions for a UK citizen! 

Kilos of steak 🥩

1 kilo of steak (beef) produces 60 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases. This is because beef herds are one of the most CO2e intensive livestock on the planet. Think about the environmental impact before you tuck into that next filet mignon!

Residents of the developed world for life 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

This one is simple – the average person in the developed world (including North America, Europe, Canada, and Australia) has a carbon footprint of approximately 10 tonnes of CO2 per year. Given that the average life expectancy across these countries is 80, we can estimate that 800 tonnes of CO2 will be emitted across a lifetime. 

Offsetting your lifetime emissions

Our calculators will also show you what percentage of your personal lifetime emissions you have offset to date. Let’s say for example that you are 30 years old. If you live in the developed world, we estimate that you will have roughly 300 tonnes of CO2 to your name so far. 

One of the best things about carbon offsetting is that you are able to account for emissions that were released in the past. This allows you to see when you have offset 100% of your lifetime emissions, meaning you are net carbon neutral for your life so far. 

But why stop here? For just a small cost, you can offset even more emissions to become carbon negative. This means overall you are taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere than you are putting in. Once you’re carbon negative, you are no longer growing your lifetime footprint and you start actually counteracting your past emissions. We all need to be aiming for this in order to guarantee a sustainable future for our planet. 

Remember, since almost every activity has carbon emissions associated with it, it is virtually impossible to reduce your carbon footprint to zero without offsetting. 

Why you should be carbon offsetting even if you live an eco-friendly lifestyle

Start your offsetting journey now

Head over to Treepoints to find the offsetting plan that’s right for you and start reducing your carbon footprint today. 


Why you should be carbon offsetting even if you have an eco-friendly lifestyle - The Treepoints Blog · December 9, 2020 at 10:03 am

[…] average carbon footprint for a UK citizen would still be around 4 tonnes per year. (Read more about how we calculate your carbon footprint). Over a lifetime this will have a significant negative impact on the […]

Understanding your carbon footprint - The Treepoints Blog · December 10, 2020 at 2:47 pm

[…] Read more: How we calculate your carbon footprint […]

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