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Insight: The websites and data tools we can use to help cut carbon footprints

Insight | Sara Shaw, Cambridge Carbon Footprint communications volunteer, has some suggestions about how we can use data to help us decarbonise.

In the 21st century, we are getting more and more used to using data to inform our choices and help us make changes. We might download apps to help count our steps to get fit, and our new techy smartwatch might track our sleep patterns so we can improve our Zzzzzs.

57% of homes now have a smart meter
57% of homes now have a smart meter

Some 57 per cent of UK residents now have smart meters that monitor energy use and provide an insight into where savings can be made. Using data is strategic: it shows how and where we are doing well, keeps track of our progress and helps us access resources and find solutions to our problems.

And data can help your community tackle climate change too. Sites like Impact Community Carbon Calculator allow you to identify the areas where taking action can make the biggest difference.

This digital visualisation tool can help parishes, wards, and local authorities understand and compare their community's carbon footprint.

Knowing how much carbon emissions are produced locally from the consumption of goods and services could be used to encourage residents to look for ways to repair and reuse items. And it might highlight the need for active and sustainable transport options - such as walking and cycling routes and better public transport - if travel by car is high.

There are now lots of data tools available to help us cut our carbon footprint
There are now lots of data tools available to help us cut our carbon footprint

Analysis of gas and electric usage could indicate old housing stock in need of insulation, and of diets, it could reveal how we are impacting the environment if they are mainly meat-based.

Other useful tools include the Climate Action Plan Explorer - which provides data on your local council’s policies and how they are implementing them - and the Place-Based Carbon Calculator, which provides environmental data on villages and wards.

This means you can compare your footprint with others’ and identify the ways you could make change. Driving decarbonisation in your community is made easier by these data providers and sharing your own could encourage others to follow suit.

So, from personal well-being monitoring to community-wide decarbonisation, we see and experience the transformative power of empirical evidence every day. So, let’s harness the power of data, not just as individuals but as catalysts for change within our wider communities, and utilise this vital tool in building a bright and sustainable future.

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