Learn to calculate carbon footprints to teach tamariki how technology and transport in their own home impacts climate change and what they can do to help the planet.
What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is a measurement of how much someone’s daily lifestyle impacts on climate change.
It is calculated by adding together the annual amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced from daily activities, and is reflected in a single number called a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e).
CO2 and GHG emissions are gases or particles that are released into the air from certain activities. These emissions trap heat in our atmosphere and contribute to to the global warming of the planet, which influences the way our climate acts and changes.
Each individual only creates a relatively small amount of these emissions in a year. But when you add together the emissions of everyone in your class, school, city or country it can have a huge impact on global warming!
By 2030 the New Zealand government has a goal to reduce national carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. With the online tools below, students can calculate their own carbon footprints and learn what they can do to help reach this goal.
What has this got to do with technology and transport?
Transport and power are usually the biggest contributors to an person’s carbon footprint.
These activities often use high emission energy sources – think burning fuel for cars, or different ways energy is created to power technology in our homes.
They are also high frequency activities, for example count how many times you are in a car each week, play games on the computer, or turn on heaters in the winter when woolly socks no longer cut it.
Using technology and transport is an important part of our daily lives, and one that we all rely on. By encouraging kids to calculate their carbon footprints it provides a visual way to showcase how the technology and transport we use day to day influences the world around us. As well as empowering tamariki to explore how one person’s small changes in reducing emissions can make a big difference to helping our planet!
Become Future Fit!!
Future Fit is an online action tool launched by Auckland and Wellington City Councils in 2019.
Using data and information from NZ scientists, this website has tools to calculate carbon footprints based on answers regarding daily habits, like how you use electricity in your home, or how you get to work.
These questions provide data on how much emissions you produce each year which gets added together for your personalized carbon footprint score
Using my household as an example – my carbon footprint is 7.29T with most of my emissions coming from food and transport – looks like I’ve got some work to do to get to my Future Fit target!
Have students complete the Basic footprint and Next level questions on the top left of the dashboard to calculate their own households carbon emissions.
One of the best features of this site is that it also has the ability to create goals and actions to prompt kids and students to start working to reduce their emissions.
The actions range from easy to accomplish changes like taking shorter showers, to more lifestyle changes such as using public transport to get to and from school.
For teachers and caregivers:
Have your kids use the actions feature to mark what actions they are already doing and select 2 actions from each area to work towards doing in the future. Each Monday they will be sent action reminders – encourage kids to work towards accomplishing one action per week.
The goal feature prompts you to set goals to reduce both your total emissions, as well as emissions per week.
The total goal can be used as a long term aim – for example I have set a goal to reduce my total carbon footprint down from 7.29T to 6.5T. Whereas the weekly goal is where to set short term achievable goals
Prompt kids to set achievable weekly goals. A good place to start is a goal to save up to 30kg of carbon per week – this can be achieved as easily as switching off all power at night in your house. Then they can create new goals by increasing the amount of carbon saved in 10kg amounts.
Family or class challenge!:
Future Fit also includes a feature that parents and teachers can use to create Team Challenges – like the team from MOTAT’s library has set up, where we encourage each other as a team and individually to reach our Future Fit goals!
Parents and teachers can use this feature to set up groups so students can share their progress in their own carbon savings with their classmates.
For more information on Future Fit, ramification on Carbon Footprints and other ways to help reduce emissions click here.
By Freya Elmer – MOTAT