The Significance of Carbon Footprints

6 min readMar 27, 2024

Izabela Mońska


Our world changes very fast. Environmental changes caused by anthropogenic issues are one of the most dangerous problems nowadays. Every member of the market is taking initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking actions involving continuous monitoring, reporting, verification, and forecasting of the effects of climate change. New regulations are being introduced that companies must comply with to focus more on sustainable development.

So what can you expect from this article? You will learn what exactly a Carbon Footprint is and the legal basis. We will then examine the political context and taxonomy and introduce the Sustainable Development Goals. At the end, we will introduce you to some alarming facts about carbon footprints.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Carbon or greenhouse gas footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from an individual, organization, process, or product that go directly into the atmosphere. GHGs are these types of gases that contribute to global warming.

Carbon footprints are usually reported by tonnes of emissions per unit of comparison. Such units can be for example tonnes of CO2-eq per year, per kilogram of protein for consumption, per kilometer traveled, per piece of clothing, and so forth.

Types of carbon footprint

We can distinguish 3 types of carbon footprint:

  1. Individual carbon footprint — the total amount of GHG emissions produced directly or indirectly by an individual’s activities,
  2. Product carbon footprint — the total amount of GHG emissions associated with the lifecycle of a product, from raw material extraction and manufacturing to distribution, use, and disposal.
  3. Corporate carbon footprint — the total amount of GHG emissions emitted during company operations (energy consumption, waste generation, and transportation associated with business activities.)

Why our carbon footprint is so important?

Without a doubt, the three highest emitters of GHG are coal, gas, and oil. By reducing our carbon footprint, we can mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, such as rising global temperatures, extreme weather events, and sea level rise, ultimately preserving the health of our planet for future generations. Below we present a few reasons why our carbon footprint is so important:

  • Mitigation of climate change
    This is the most important reason. If we care about our carbon footprint, and, we will take more pro-environmental actions, so fat it will reduce the risk of global warming. By effectively reducing the pace of increasing global temperatures, it can aid in stabilizing rising sea levels, decelerating the loss of polar ice caps, and averting ocean acidification. We will use human bleaching of corals as an example. During this process, corals expel the algae. It’s approximated that around 30% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, leading to a decrease in its pH and subsequent increase in acidity. Rapidly rising temperatures have contributed to regional and seasonal extremes that disrupt natural ecosystems, leading to melting glaciers and extreme weather events such as downpours or droughts, which in turn affect the habitats of many plant and animal species. More than 8 to 9 inches of sea level rise since 1880 is forcing people to migrate away from coastal areas and destroying their habitats. Sea ice plays a key role in regulating climate by reflecting solar radiation and providing habitat for many animals. Since 1979, the area covered by sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by more than 30%.
  • Enhancing the health of the global population
    Reducing our carbon footprint is a crucial step to protecting our planet and providing a sustainable world for future generations. The increase in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases poses a serious threat to human health by deteriorating air quality. Increased concentrations of pollen, mold spores, dust, and particulate matter lead to the occurrence of asthma and other respiratory diseases. Additionally, ozone depletion in the stratospheric layer increases exposure to UV radiation, which may lead to the release of carcinogenic chemicals into the atmosphere as a result of extreme weather events. This process causes diseases such as cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, the depletion of food resources leads to malnutrition, which negatively affects human development.
  • Contributing to the Worldwide Economy
    Lowering greenhouse gas emissions stimulates the global economy, especially when it leads to attractive rewards for strategies, solutions, and innovations that help protect the planet, fight climate change, and promote clean energy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions also contributes to reducing the number of deaths caused by air pollution, which partially relieves the burden on healthcare systems.

What are the main carbon reporting legislations in the EU?

CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) — It’s one of the EU’s tools under the CSRD European Green Deal. It aims to improve sustainability reporting and transparency by obliging companies to use common ESG reporting standards. The CSRD covers a large number of entities across the European Union (EU). These include large companies, listed companies, and organizations working in the public interest in the EU. As a result, industries from multinational corporations to start-ups will be required to comply with the new reporting regulations.

SFRD (Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation)aims to achieve greater transparency about how sustainability risks that occur in the activities of financial market participants and financial advisors are analyzed. The SFRD covers such companies as Insurance companies, and financial advisors (including investment companies, credit institutions, and insurance intermediaries).

CSDDD (Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive) — an EU regulation requiring companies to make efforts to counteract the negative effects of business activities about, among others, human rights and the environment. On March 15, 2024, after many months of negotiations, a compromise was reached, under which the EU Council approved the text of the directive. The CSDD Directive is ultimately intended to cover companies and capital groups employing over 1,000 employees and generating revenues exceeding EUR 450 million. It will apply to the first entities from 2027. These will be companies and capital groups employing more than 5,000 employees and with net revenues exceeding EUR 1.5 billion.

EFRAG (European Financial Reporting Advisory Group) — an independent organization that advises the European Union on financial reporting standards, promoting transparency and convergence with global accounting practices.

NFRD (Non-Financial Reporting Directive) — an EU directive that requires certain large companies to disclose non-financial information relating to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their annual reports. The aim is to enhance transparency and accountability regarding companies’ impacts on society and the environment.

A few alarming facts about carbon footprints.

  • According to the environmental group NuEnergy, transport is one of the leading producers of CO2, right behind electricity generation.
  • Reducing waste is a crucial step towards reducing CO2 emissions. For every 10% of waste reduction, you can avoid 1,200 pounds of CO2e, according to the Center for Sustainable Systems. You can do it by recycling, but also by buying products with less packaging and refusing plastic bags at the grocery store.
  • Global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 1.1% in 2023, increasing 410 million tonnes.
  • A structural slowdown in emissions has been identified thanks to the growing use of clean energy. In the years leading up to 2023, global emissions grew at the slowest rate since the Great Depression, at just over 0.5% per year.

How to reduce our carbon footprint?

There are a lot of possibilities to reduce our carbon footprint. Thanks to that we can contribute to mitigating climate change- what is the most important here — protecting our Planet!

But what exactly we can do daily to reduce our carbon footprint?

  • Use public transportation, carpool, walk, bike, or use electric vehicles if it’s possible!
  • Consuming locally sourced seasonal produce helps reduce carbon emissions generated by transporting and refrigerating goods!
  • Use reusable bags while shopping — thanks to that you contribute to limiting the use of plastic!
  • Buy products from companies that use sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing and packaging practices!

The rise in CO2 levels leads to global warming, causing disruptions in climate patterns, rising sea levels, and biodiversity loss. It poses a serious threat to ecosystems, wildlife, and human well-being. To provide a sustainable future for generations to come we have to take action! EU by implementing new regulations regarding sustainable development made a crucial step towards rising awareness by companies!





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