30 Oct 2023, 13:47
Carolina Kyllmann

One fifth of people in Germany know their personal carbon footprint – survey

Clean Energy Wire

About a fifth (22%) of people in Germany know their personal "carbon footprint", with younger people more likely to engage with the topic than older ones, shows an Ipsos survey commissioned by technical inspection association TÜV. At 27 percent respectively, those living in cities, and those with higher education qualifications, are more likely to know their carbon footprint than the average German. People between the ages of 30-39 concern themselves with their personal carbon footprint the most at 35 percent, while people aged 60 and older do the least at 13 percent. "Everyone can make a small contribution to environmental and climate protection with their individual lifestyle and consumption behaviour," Juliane Petrich, policy and sustainability officer at TÜV, said. Knowing your personal footprint is an important step towards reducing it, but higher prices for environmentally friendly products, or a lack of information, often get in the way of sustainable consumption, she added.

The term "carbon footprint" has in the past been promoted by big oil companies. Experts and commentators see this as an attempt to put blame and responsibility on individuals, away from large corporations. Changing personal behaviour is important in combatting climate change, but companies and governments hold much bigger levers. A personal carbon footprint indicates the amount of greenhouse gas emissions an individual is responsible for as a result of their lifestyle and consumption choices. According to the environment ministry (BMUV), the annual average carbon footprint per capita in Germany is 10.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. A 2021 Eurobarometer survey in Germany found that 56% of respondents said it was important to take individual responsibility for climate change, and in the 2023 TÜV Sustainability Study, the same percentage answered they have altered their consumption and mobility behaviour because of climate change. The amount of meat eaten per year, for example, is declining, and people are thinking more about how their dietary choices affect the environment and climate. According to the second part of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) climate survey for 2022-2023, two-thirds of people in Europe (66%) support stricter government measures to change people’s individual behaviour to tackle climate change.

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