Community carbon footprint tool launched

1 March 2021

Impact, the community-scale carbon footprint tool, was launched on 26 February.

Click here to go to the Impact website: impact-tool.org.uk.

The aim of Impact is to give small communities (parishes and towns) usable data on their carbon emissions that is easy to understand, easy to share, and which gives them a clear idea of their main ‘impact areas’ – those places where focused community-based action can make the biggest contribution to cutting local emissions.

The tool has been designed with a simple user interface and dynamic visual representation of data that’s easy for a layperson to interpret.

It uses two different but complementary approaches to carbon footprinting: territorial-based reporting and consumption-based reporting. Both of these look at where our emissions come from, but they calculate this in different ways.

A territorial footprint looks at all emissions that arise from activities within a particular boundary, covering for example road and rail travel, industrial and commercial emissions and agriculture, and household energy use. The consumption footprint also looks at household energy use, but it differs from the territorial approach in that it considers the behaviours and the purchases of the people living in that area, including goods and services, much of which are imported from outside - like food, clothing, banking and medical services. Both approaches can provide useful information to help target local action.

“We know that local authorities and central government are working on climate emergency plans, and that carbon footprinting at these larger spatial geographies is commonly commissioned" said CSE’s project lead, Rachel Coxcoon.

"We know also that many concerned individuals are already using the wide range of personal carbon footprint tools available on the internet. But we identified a real gap for carbon footprinting at the small community scale which takes into account the lack of specialist knowledge among community groups and the lowest tier of local government. Impact fills this gap. And as well as being clear and useable, it will also give you pointers, once you understand your community’s impact, on what to do next.

Impact is focused on Town and Parish Council level, but there's is a clear demand for this data at other levels, such as electoral ward. We're actively fundraising to be able to meet this demand, and if you'd like to contribute donations can be made here.

CSE developed Impact as part of our Climate Emergency Support Programme, working jointly with the University of Exeter’s Centre for Energy & the Environment as part of their South West Environment and Climate Action Network (SWeCAN) project. It has been reviewed and tested by councillors and clerks from over 170 different parishes to whom we are very grateful.


The work was part funded through CSE's charitable reserve, the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, via the Midlands Energy Hub, and the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund. If you have any questions about the tool or suggestions for how it could be improved, you can contact the project team at impact-tool@cse.org.uk.

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