A campaign to get people across Northern Devon to work out their carbon footprint and pledge to reduce it has got off to an amazing start.

As part of ‘Find Your Footprint’ week, running this week, North Devon Council and Torridge District Council have teamed up with environmental experts Carbon Savvy to encourage people to use Carbon Savvy’s innovative carbon footprint calculator to work out how their lifestyles are affecting the environment through carbon emissions. They can then look at different activities that could reduce their impact and decide what they can do to cut back on the CO2 they produce.

So far, over 600 people have taken part but the aim is to reach 1,000 so the partners are urging more people to take part in the survey with a chance to win one of several low carbon, locally sourced prizes.

This new initiative follows the decision of both councils to sign up to the Devon Climate Declaration. The declaration commits to collaborating to engage Devon’s residents, businesses and visitors to develop and implement a plan to achieve a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and by 100% by 2050.  North Devon and Torridge Councils are also committed to becoming carbon neutral themselves by 2030.

68% of UK councils are committed to carbon neutrality by between 2030 and 2040, with many recognising the need to encourage behaviour change among their constituents if they are to reach their targets. This initiative across Northern Devon is a pilot designed to be rolled out across the country if successful.

North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Climate Change, Councillor Caroline Leaver says “What I think is fantastic about the Find Your Footprint initiative is that it is very easy for people to engage with. I am not a very computer savvy person, however I have been able to do the survey online - it’s really simple and anybody can do it.”

Councillor Peter Christie, Mayor of Bideford and Vice Chairman of Torridge District Council, says: “I support this move wholeheartedly because it gives a chance for individuals to do their bit. Here is another way of really looking at your impact on the Earth, and what we can do about it.”

Mukti Mitchell, author, ‘eco-entrepreneur’ and creator of the carbon footprint calculator, says: “Carbon literacy leads to behaviour change"an average UK carbon footprint is close to 15 tonnes per person per year, yet simple actions like taking one less flight, buying organic milk or installing loft insulation can have a big effect when lots of people do so at the same time. Big change always starts with one small step, which is why the “find your footprint” campaign is a perfect way to help people make those changes that collectively will mean so much for our environment. Life in 2030 will look very similar to today (21 October 2020) but our energy use will be 80% more efficient, and because of that we will be happier and healthier too, so the sooner we make a change, the better for us all, and of course our planet.” 

Calculation of an individual’s carbon footprint takes just five minutes and can be done online at www.carbonsavvy.uk. The initiative also includes ‘The Carbon Savvy Handy Guide’ - an easy to read overview on how a typical household could reduce their carbon footprint by 80%, which will be published in March 2021. It is backed up by a social media programme and collaborations with charities in the region. It also aims to work with climate groups, schools, churches and town and parish councils. Following its completion in March 2021 an impact assessment of the pilot programme’s effectiveness will be analysed with a view to offering it as a blueprint to other councils across the UK.