What is the average carbon footprint in the UK? (And how to reduce yours)

The UK’s carbon footprint is 5x the Paris Agreement's recommendation.

Do you know what the average carbon footprint in the UK is? The answer may shock you. Understanding your carbon footprint and ways to reduce it can be an empowering way to help ease the strain on the climate and environment. And you might be surprised at how simple reducing your carbon footprint can be by just making simple switches!

Average UK carbon footprint

On average, the UK’s carbon footprint is approximately 12.7 tonnes per person of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent – basically a measure used to compare the emissions of various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential) per year.

Not sure what 12.7 tonnes of CO2e looks like? This is equivalent to having your heating blasting for 80 days or driving around the world once (23,000 miles in the average car).

Breakdown of the average UK carbon footprint

Transportation (3.1 tonnes CO2e)

This includes emissions from personal vehicles, public transport, and air travel. Personal car use and frequent flying are particularly high-impact activities.

Food and drink (2.8 tonnes CO2e)

The production, processing, and transportation of food and beverages add to carbon emissions. Diets high in meat and dairy products are especially carbon-intensive.

Energy use (2.2 tonnes CO2e)

Home heating, electricity, and cooling account for a significant portion of the footprint. The use of fossil fuels for heating and non-renewable energy sources for electricity contribute heavily to emissions.

Goods and services (1.9 tonnes CO2e)

This category covers the carbon footprint of clothing, electronics, furniture, and other consumer goods, as well as services like healthcare and education.

Public services (1.7 tonnes CO2e)

Public administration, defense, and infrastructure spending all contribute to a person’s CO2e. However, these emissions are considered "non-compressible" because they come from essential services and activities that individuals can't directly control or reduce.

How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

Reducing your carbon footprint involves making more sustainable choices in daily life. If everyone in the UK reduced their carbon footprint by 100 kg annually (which sounds like a lot but is actually equivalent to only driving 180 miles less or eating 8 less steaks) this would reduce carbon emissions by roughly 6.8 million a year.

Here are a couple of practical steps to help decrease your environmental impact:

Energy use

  • Switch to renewable energy: Consider switching your energy supplier to one that provides 100% renewable electricity. Installing solar panels can also reduce reliance on grid electricity.
  • Improve home insulation: Proper insulation reduces the need for heating and cooling, thereby cutting down energy consumption. Simple measures like draught-proofing windows and doors can make a significant difference.
  • Use energy-efficient appliances: Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models. Look for appliances with high energy ratings, which consume less electricity (check out our blog about the most budget and eco-friendly kitchen appliances!)


  • Opt for public transport or carpooling: Using public transport, carpooling, or ride sharing reduces the number of vehicles on the road, decreasing overall emissions.
  • Switch to electric vehicles: If possible, transition to an electric vehicle (EV). EV's produce zero tailpipe emissions and, when charged with renewable energy, have a significantly lower carbon footprint (EVs have a 50-80% better carbon footprint!). Find out more about or Finance for GreenerMotoring.
  • Limit air travel: Reduce the frequency of flights, especially long-haul flights. Consider alternatives like trains for shorter distances or commuting to work and events, which have a lower carbon footprint. In fact, petrol and diesel cars were found to produce 9x more carbon than trains!

Food and drink

  • Adopt a plant-based diet: Reducing meat and dairy consumption can significantly lower your carbon footprint (around 14% of the world's carbon emissions come from meat and dairy industries). If you eat meat in every single meal of the day and you’re not ready to cut it out entirely, why not challenge yourself to make one of your meals plant-based.
  • Choose local and seasonal produce: Buying local and seasonal foods reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation and storage.
  • Minimise food waste: Plan meals, store food properly, and use leftovers to reduce food waste, which contributes to unnecessary emissions from production and disposal. Find out more in our blog all about reducing your food waste.

Goods and services

  • Buy less, choose wisely: Reduce consumption by buying only what you need and opting for high-quality, durable products that last longer.
  • Support sustainable brands: Choose products from companies committed to sustainable practices and low-carbon manufacturing processes.
  • Repair and reuse: Repairing broken items and repurposing goods can extend their life and reduce the need for new products.

Understanding and reducing your carbon footprint is crucial in the collective effort to combat climate change. Small changes, when adopted by many, can lead to substantial positive effects on the planet.

Tandem Marketplace provides access to tools, advice and a range of greener home improvement products through our marketplace partners. All helping you to cut down your bills and your carbon footprint.


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