The dangerous myth of the individual carbon footprint

Individual action won’t solve the climate emergency — and we can’t trust the companies that try to persuade us otherwise

The role of the fossil fuel industry in promoting individual carbon footprints

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

BP created the first carbon footprint calculator as part of a marketing campaign asking individuals to make lifestyle changes to reduce global carbon emissions.

They haven’t stopped since. In 2019 BP unveiled their new carbon footprint calculator, working with creative agency Six to create the calculator as a tool to engage with young people at the One Young World event. They also ran an online campaign asking their audience to use the calculator to make a pledge to change something in their life to mitigate climate change.

Photo is a screenshot from BP’s Target Neutral website.

Relying on individual action is dangerous

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Focusing on individual responsibility to respond to climate change is dangerous, resulting only in real structural change being decelerated.

That isn’t to say that we don’t need to make changes in the way that we live. We absolutely do. But it must be all of us, not just those willing to make sacrifices. And to completely change the way that we live is not easy. To make it happen we need enforcement and incentives from those in power.

Read next: ‘Sustainable Style’: The Truth Behind The Marketing of H&M’s Conscious Collection

Ramblings on communication and our climate crisis🌱

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