Finland has set itself a target to become a carbon-neutral society by 2050. Ambitious cities like Espoo and Vantaa aim to reach a zero level in their carbon dioxide emissions even earlier than that, by 2030. Reaching these goals requires action from individuals as well, since 68 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are related to household consumption. Up to 72 per cent of Finns believe that acting to save the environment is important even for the sake of setting an example, but it still takes too long for the information to be transformed into practical measures.
The connection between climate change and lifestyle is a complicated matter because changes in the climate do not always manifest themselves immediately and tangibly in our everyday lives. In addition, we are not yet experienced enough to recognise the size of our own carbon footprint, since we have lacked easy methods for measuring the size of our own footprint. Until now, there has been no easy test available for individual people that suggests practical measures suited to personal test results for mitigating climate change.
The effect of greenhouse gas emissions on climate can be measured and compared using the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which demonstrates the greenhouse gases produced by man, or the carbon footprint. Expert evaluations of the carbon footprint generated by Finns range from 10,800 kg CO2e to 8,700 kg CO2e, while the average footprint of more than 150,000 people who have taken the Sitra test is 7,500 kg CO2e (as of 31 January 2018). People should strive to at least halve this figure for their households to support the carbon neutrality goal.
We composed the questions for the lifestyle test in collaboration with D-mat oy, specialists in environmental accounting, by comparing the most popular lifestyle carbon footprint calculators in Finland and elsewhere in the world. The test included 28 calculators, 19 of which were described in closer detail in terms of content and objectives. Special attention was paid to the user experience of the services, because we wanted to create a test that is as easy to complete as possible and that would provoke interest towards climate actions people can take in their everyday lives. Those seeking more precise calculations should get acquainted with the Finnish Environment Institute’s (SYKE) Climatediet and Baltic Sea calculator or the City of Lahti’s Tonni lähti calculator.
Establishing one’s own personal carbon footprint is not enough as such to enable the person taking the test to take practical measures for reducing his or her environmental impacts. Therefore, we linked 100 smart everyday actions to the results, so that everyone can scroll through them and select the actions that best suit their own situation and level of motivation. They can also compare their result with the results of other people who have taken the test.
We will continue to develop the test and during the spring we will add a few more specific questions related to, for example, driving and living. Everyone is welcome to use the background calculation basis that accompanies this test.
- Statistics Finland, Motiva, Natural Resources Institute Finland, the Finnish Transport Agency, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Environmental impacts of material flows caused by the Finnish economy (ENVIMAT), the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and D-mat oy.
- World Bank 2014 https://data.worldbank.org