Will People Change Their Behaviour If They See What Their Carbon Footprint Is?

By Liam Harrison
Elementary Category (Grades 4-6)
Experiment | Environment

My project is about individual carbon footprints, which means the amount of carbon pollution a person generates as a result of their individual actions. This is important because everyone contributes to climate change through their actions. If we change some of our behaviors, we can reduce our carbon footprint and help solve the problem of climate change.

In my project, I asked 50 people to calculate their carbon footprints using an online calculator (www.carbonfootprint.com). The survey looks at factors such as how many resources people use, how much they buy, how much they drive and in what sort of vehicle, how many kilometers they fly every year, and what sort of diet they eat. At the end of the survey, a carbon footprint is generated and a person can compare their footprint to the average Canadian footprint (15 tonnes), the average global footprint (5 tonnes) and the global target scientists say we need to aim for to combat climate change (2 tonnes).

I created a survey of 6 questions that I asked people to answer after they calculated their carbon footprint. The questions asked whether people wanted to reduce their carbon footprint by this time next year, if so by what percentage and what specific ways they would do this. I also asked if they wanted to participate in a follow up study in a year’s time to see if they were successful in reducing their carbon footprint.

My hypothesis was that if people saw what their carbon footprint is, they will change some of their action and behaviors to lower their carbon footprint.

My results showed that my hypothesis was correct. Out of 50 people, 49 people (98%) said they would work to reduce their carbon footprint. 26 of those people (52%) said they would work to reduce their carbon footprint if it wasn’t too hard; 23 people (46%) said they would work to reduce their carbon footprint even if it was hard. The average amount people wanted to reduce their carbon footprint was 20.2%.

Participants provided long and specific list of actions they would take to reduce their carbon footprint. A list of these actions can be found in my report.

100% of participants (50 people) said they would be willing to participate in the study again next year to see if they were successful in reducing their carbon footprint. I would like to do this study again next year.

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