What is a carbon footprint - definition

A carbon footprint is defined as:

The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

In other words: When you drive a car, the engine burns fuel which creates a certain amount of CO2, depending on its fuel consumption and the driving distance. (CO2 is the chemical symbol for carbon dioxide). When you heat your house with oil, gas or coal, then you also generate CO2. Even if you heat your house with electricity, the generation of the electrical power may also have emitted a certain amount of CO2. When you buy food and goods, the production of the food and goods also emitted some quantities of CO2.

Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame. Usually a carbon footprint is calculated for the time period of a year.

The best way is to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions based on the fuel consumption. In the next step you can add the CO2 emission to your carbon footprint. Below is a table for the most common used fuels:


  • For each (UK-) gallon of petrol fuel consumed, 10.4 kg carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted.
  • For each (US-) gallon of gasoline fuel consumed, 8.7 kg carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted.
  • If your car consumes 7.5 liter diesel per 100 km, then a drive of 300 km distance consumes 3 x 7.5 = 22.5 liter diesel, which adds 22.5 x 2.7 kg = 60.75 kg CO2 to your personal carbon footprint.
fuel type unit
CO2 emitted per unit
Petrol 1 gallon (UK)
10.4 kg
1 liter
2.3 kg
Gasoline  1 gallon (USA)
8.7 kg
Gasoline  1 liter
2.3 kg
Diesel 1 gallon (UK)
12.2 kg
Diesel  1 gallon (USA)
9.95 kg 
1 liter
2.7 kg
Oil (heating)
1 gallon (UK)
13.6 kg
Oil (heating)  1 gallon (USA)
11.26 kg 
Oil (heating)
1 liter 3 kg

Each of the following activities add 1 kg of CO2 to your personal carbon footprint:

  • Travel by public transportation (train or bus) a distance of 10 to 12 km (6.5 to 7 miles)
  • Drive with your car a distance of 6 km or 3.75 miles (assuming 7.3 litres petrol per 100 km or 39 mpg)
  • Fly with a plane a distance of 2.2 km or 1.375 miles.
  • Operate your computer for 32 hours (60 Watt consumption assumed)
  • Production of 5 plastic bags
  • Production of 2 plastic bottles
  • Production of 1/3 of an American cheeseburger (yes, the production of each cheeseburger emits 3.1 kg of CO2!)

To calculate the above contributions to the carbon footprint, the current UK mix for electricity and trains was taken into account.

Carbon dioxide is a so called greenhouse gas causing global warming . Other greenhouse gases which might be emitted as a result of your activities are e.g. methane and ozone. These greenhouse gases are normally also taken into account for the carbon footprint. They are converted into the amount of CO2 that would cause the same effects on global warming (this is called equivalent CO2 amount).

Few people express their carbon footprint in kg carbon rather than kg carbon dioxide. You can always convert kg carbon dioxide in kg carbon by multiplying with a factor 0.27 (1'000 kg CO2 equals 270 kg carbon). See my comment to the article about personal responsibility for global warming .

The carbon footprint is a very powerful tool to understand the impact of personal behaviour on global warming. Most people are shocked when they see the amount of CO2 their activities create! If you personally want to contribute to stop global warming, the calculation and constant monitoring of your personal carbon footprint is essential.

For registered users, there is a carbon footprint calculator on this website, which allows to store individual activities like, e.g. travelling by car, train, bus or air plane, fuel consumptions, electricity bills and so on (we call the individual contributions "carbon stamps"). You can then see the amount of CO2 created for each individual activity. You can do this either in advance and use it as a help for decisions or afterwards to continually sum up your carbon dioxide emissions. Klick here to see a sample carbon footprint with some activities.

An off-line carbon footprint and primary energy consumption calculator (Excel sheet) is already available in the download section.

There are graphs available on this site for the CO2 emissions per capita by country (average carbon footprint by country). In the medium- and long term, the carbon footprint must be reduced to less than 2'000 kg CO2 per year and per person. This is the maximum allowance for a sustainable living .



Try this one


Carbon4Profit means being conscious about carbon footprint

One needs to understand these basic terminologies to get some idea about their daily GHG emissions and what % they add to the carbon foot print. I discuss on similar issues at my blog www.carbon4profit.com

Just curious...

But what kind of footprint did BP just stamp the world with?

Trees and plantation absortion of CO2

Can we have a table convertion of TREE plantation in CO2 tons, or how much CO2 is absorved to generate one kg of wood?

CO2 absorption of wood

Burning 1 kg of wood releases about 2.78 kWh of energy and about 0.69 kg of CO2.
On the other hand, when trees grow, they absorb the same amount of CO2 (0.69 kg CO2 per kg wood). Please note that these are approximate figures, which depend on the sort of trees and kind of cultivation. You may find much lower and some higher figures in the literature!


CO2 absorption of wood

Thanks Juerg,
According to your answer each tree generates the same amount of CO2 generated by burning, this will be extrapolated to all the plantations?
There is a standard indicating how to determine this?
Can you tell me were can I find that literature?

Reduce carbon footprint!!!

Help reduce your carbon footprint and download Causeworld on iPod touch/iPhone. You can also help stop child abuse or help a victim of an earthquake in Haiti. These are just some of the things you can do!!! :D

carbon footprint for lubricants like motor oil or hydraulic oi


What is the carbon foot print for lubricants like motor oil used in cars or hydraulic oil used in hydraulic applications.




I still need more info ect.your carbon foorprint in your transportation,what you eat, what you throw away???but the website was great


Interesting how much CO2 is produced from a litre of petrol. I just worked out that full tank (47 L) of petrol produces as much CO2 as a Nepalese shepard does in a year. I don't think he drives much.

thanx its helf me in my

thanx its helf me in my project,FROM_NARENDRA JAT

CO2 from Gasoline

I always wondered what the output of CO2 was from me driving my car. I need to offset some of my output with things like solar panels on my home. What do you think?

Forgot to link this site about home solar power


foresters contribution

how can forestry associations can contribute in CDM,I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT REGISTRATION PROCEDURE ,HOW THE INDUSTRY AND FORESTRY ASSOCIATIONS COLLABORATE .contact me at shrr69@rediffmail.com


How does the ecological footprint compares with the carbon dioxide emission per capita? Why do they measure them separately, and what are the costs and benefits of doing so?

Thank you

Carbon Credit Definition

Carbon credit definition states that the authorization granted to an organization or a country to emit carbon dioxide up to a ton. Carbon offsets are the indulgences of today, has sold to a public increasingly aware of carbon fulfill their climate sins. But scratch the surface and a disturbing picture arises when the creative accounting and to develop a shell game to hide the impossibility of verifying a real benefit to climate change, and where communities in the South often have little choice, as draft compensation shall be inflicted on them. Total emissions of greenhouse gases produced directly and indirectly to human activity, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide.

Carbon Footprint

Its the time for us to change ourselves if we want to save our home.We ourselves have designed and developed new technologies for destroying our own home but now its the time for us to be responsible and serve our responsibilities with entire devotion and devotion. SO SAVE ENVIRONMENT SAVE HOME

water vapor

what about water vapor is more of a contributing factor to the environment than co2


I would like answer

water vapor

Research it see the % the only problem is you cant make any money on it water vapor credits


This was very helpful. Thank you.



Im a bit confused about your

Im a bit confused about your table of CO2 emission, how can 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide be produced from one litre of petrol when a litre petrol only weighs about 711 grams?

Carbon Footprint for Whse. Forklift

How can I get or calcualte the Carbon Footprint of a warehouse forklift?


HOW DO YOU KNOW THE WEIGHT THAT A COMPANY IS SENDING INTO THE ATMOSPHERE? where did the formala for measuring come into being?


My company purifies lubricating oils, mainly gear and hydraulic oils. My customers have reduced their waste stream for used oils by 90 to 95%. They use my company mainly because it is cheaper and better for the equipment than a traditional oil change. As an added incentive I would like to know the carbon footprint of a liter of these oils with this information I may be able to convince more companies to use my process.

this webpage

Thanks a lot! Really helped me with my research!

Yeah, I Know

Isn't it da best? Thanks to my fervous research, I finally created my own website(BORING)!!!!!!!!!!! So cool!

to reduce carbon footprint

i m planning to buy cycle to reduce CO2. though i hve one bike...
i m a envirolmental lover.
i alwys try to reduce pollution by mu side n also try to stop other......

hii.. my question is how is

hii.. my question is how is carbon footprint assesment different from SDR( Sustainability Development Audit)...since Carbon footprint study is also a mode to attain sustainable development

carbon footprint

I am interested on your study.I want to calculate the carbon footprint of resident sector.I want the detail information,please sent the available information you have on my email. It will be an essential tool for me to complete my study. (email: dulal.ashok@yahoo.com)



Carbon footprints?

Hello, I am currently working on a project to help eliminate or at least reduce plastic waste in the City of Chicago. I am researching the carbon footprints of different types of bag. e,g, paper, plastic, reusable, and compostable (yeah) does anyone know of a good site to find the carbon footprint statistics for these materials?


Carbon Budget

I have taken the excel document and calculated a carbon budget of 3 tonnes for 2011 and for 2012...added the carbon footprint of our food, water supply, retail purchases and details relevent to Perth Western Australia.
Retail purchases calculated from http://www.dothegreenthing.com/wiki/display/WIKI/Buy+an+old+thing+not+a+new+thing
Does anyone know the KgCO2e of 1Kg almonds?

Business Carbon Footprint

A good place to start with any company is to actually measure and report your carbon footprint according to the guidelines of the GHG Protocol. The Carbon Report (www.thecarbonreport.com) delivers a carbon footprint at a fraction of the cost of tradition consulting lead approaches.

carbon footprint

This site was very helpful when my 14 year old daughter ask me what was a carbon footprint. It help me explain it to her. Thank you!


Wow this is really useful to b because a lot of school are going green , as well as communities too

carbon foot print

really shock how we emit co2 in our daily activities. I feel to reduce and help somewhat as i can do to the world.


This website is very useful for finding out how a carbon Footprint is produced.

Business Carbon Footprinting

A very good resource for businesses to conduct a GHG compliant carbon footprint is The Carbon Report, www.thecarbonreport.com


Data source and year would be helpful :)

CO2 or CO2e

You define carbon footprint as all greenhouse gas emissions, yet your calculations are only for carbon dioxide - CO2!?
How can the full CO2e footrpint be calculated?

It should be CO2e (Carbon dioxide equivalents)

Which calculation of CO2e are you exactly referring to? We showed some examples where only CO2 is emitted. In such cases the amount of CO2e equals the amount of CO2. On the other hand, if for example a process emits Methane, the amount of Methane is mulitplied with a factor 23 to get CO2e. You can find tables with the conversion factors into CO2e for various gases.


Helpful Aloot!:*



Malaysia has enforced RENEWABLE ENERGY ACT 2010 and this has placed Malaysia at top 10 of the sustainability framework and roadmap.

Pioneer Advocate in Competitive Legal Intelligence(CLI)
External Expert Consultant
He can be reached at his new email: Jeongchunphuoc@gmail.com


Using your information

Hello, would I be able to include your "Time for Change" information with student in my theoretical class? I would like to disseminate the information in a flyer handout or perharps place it in a CD as a general information...


Vincent Aranda
TAFE college

Feel free to use infos from our website

Of course, no problem. For details see here http://timeforchange.org/citing-informating

Best regards

My opinion

Honestly I dont care about this junk like global warming its stupid.

carbon foot print

I am a enviornmental activist working in thermal power plant. Your article is praise worthy and helps me a lots in understanding carbon footprints.



Thank You!!!