The average British resident emits 11.7 tonnes of carbon each year, which is five times the level recommended in the Paris Agreement.
That’s according to research by Greenly, which divided the available emissions data in 2019 by the number of inhabitants in the UK – more than 66 million.
The company states that these emissions counted relate to transport, food, consumption, freight and other daily activities.
Transport is the largest contributor to the average Brit’s carbon footprint, the study explains – representing 3.1 tonnes of emissions. Three-quarters of personal transport emissions are linked to personal cars or other vehicles.
Switching to a train instead of a car or aeroplane for a longer journey generates 99% less carbon emissions, the researchers suggest – however, bicycles and carpooling are the two most effective ways for a person to reduce their transportation carbon footprint.
Food is not far behind transport, leading to 2.8 tonnes of emissions – with half of this linked to meat consumption and the importation of food. Eating locally produced food or having a vegetarian diet would be the easiest ways to cut this down.
Keeping our homes warm, our lights on and charging our everyday devices leads to 2.2 tonnes of emissions.
The remainder is linked to buying brand-new items or clothes, as well as giving money to banks that don’t invest in environmentally friendly ventures.
Greenly claims that if each member of the British public adopted these changes to their lifestyle, their carbon footprint would drop by 28%.
Tommy Catherine from Greenly said: “While it is true that individual actions can go some way in reducing our carbon footprint, this study demonstrates the systemic factors contributing to the climate emergency at hand, which have long been ignored in the discourse surrounding climate change.
“Social actors such as corporations and the state must urgently find common ground to decarbonise essential sectors such as industry, transport and agriculture to achieve a sharp decrease in our energy consumption.
“As demonstrated by the recent positive news on the repairing of the ozone hole, such collaborative solutions are eminently possible, and must be pursued with urgency.”