Here’s how it works
Transparency Report – Carbon
As an organisation, we have taken up the challenge of helping fighting climate change by addressing global greenhouse gas emissions, the primary cause of global warming. Considering the 2021 IPCC report stated that; ‘Human influence is “very likely” (90%) the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice.’ It highlights the need to come together as a global community to do our part in the fight against climate change.
Our Approach to the Climate Challenge
We have developed a web-based analysis model which works with emissions data to form our carbon footprint calculator. This calculator is free to access on our website and has been built to help our users identify the actions they need to take to live a net-zero carbon lifestyle. The statistician George Box provides a valuable perspective to think about all modelling techniques. ‘All models are wrong, but some are useful’ is a famous aphorism attributed to George Box. This is because models are necessarily idealised versions of the processes they try representing and will fall short of the complexities of reality. The question is not ‘is the model correct? but rather ‘is the model useful?’. The RMF Carbon Footprint calculator is useful in helping our users perceive the carbon impact of their lifestyle choices and the mitigation they need to implement to led net-zero carbon lifestyles.
Carbon Footprint Calculator
Through this online tool, we receive a more granular estimation of our user’s carbon emissions. A critical step in helping our communities live a carbon-neutral lifestyle. We achieve this by refining per capita emissions data with user habits and lifestyle choices such as:
- Dietary choices
- Transportation methods
- Flying habits
- Garbage waste production
- Household Energy Consumption
The lifestyle questions in the footprint calculator have explicitly been selected because they represent some of the leading causes of global greenhouse gas emissions by sector. The Carbon Footprint factsheet produced by the Centre of Sustainable Systems at The University of Michigan found that food accounts for 10-30% of a household’s emissions contribution. Identifying our community’s dietary choices is crucial for calculating their carbon footprint and leading a net-zero carbon lifestyle.
Table 1 below shows which sector each question represents and that sectors percentage contribution to global emissions. For instance, dietary requirements; clearing the land to accommodate dietary choices incurs a carbon opportunity cost. As this land could have been used for carbon sequestration through afforestation.
Table 1: Showing sectors represented in the carbon footprint calculator. (Ritchie Hannah & Roser Max, 2020)
How does the Questionnaire work?
We have developed a model that accounts for the different emissions contributions or weightings associated with varying lifestyles of users through literature research. i.e. how meat-eaters have a higher emissions contribution or weighting than vegetarians, and how public road transport users on average have a lower travel emissions contribution than private transport users on the same journey. Table 2 below shows the carbon intensities associated with different dietary choices by looking at the emissions intensity of livestock products by the production unit along the whole supply chain( farm to retail).
Table 2: Shows the carbon intensity of different dietary choices.(Scarborough et al., 2014)
According to the Oxford Martin School’s emissions by sector database, Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use (AFOLU) activities are the second largest contributor to emissions, at nearly 20% (18.4%) after the energy sector. Henceforth, our approach as the RMF Community to tackling emissions makes use of afforestation and reforestation activities, which both sequester carbon and address the deforestation caused by AFLOU.
Figure 1:Emissions by sector. (Ritchie Hannah & Roser Max, 2020)
Carbon sequestration through Afforestation and Reforestation.
In addition to encouraging our clients to adjust their lifestyle choices, the carbon footprint model helps clients identify the number of reforestation activities they need to support to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle. Research provides us with a rough estimate of the quantity of carbon sequestrated per tree (depending on species). Using this as a guide, we compare that to our Carbon Footprint Calculator to customise funding to projects.
Our carbon capture plans are broken into 3 climate plans :
- Climate Champion
The Net-Zero plan is based on the average emissions or per capita emissions for your region. Based on each region’s average emissions, the Net-Zero Plan will form the baseline for these emissions. Taking the questionnaire will help our users identify if they are in line with their regional average. The Changemaker and Climate Champion Plans represent two and three times the Net-Zero Plan for those whose lifestyles are more carbon intense or that want to go the extra mile.
Our Reforestation Partners
Through our partners Eden projects, we fund afforestation and reforestation schemes in Kenya, Mozambique, Haiti, Indonesia and more.
For Businesses, we provide more bespoke services by providing carbon audits. We account for a client’s scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions across their assets, operations, and people through this process. Further to identifying client emissions at each level, we identify strategies to reduce emissions that align with the client’s financial and social objectives.
Transparency Report – Marine Plastic Waste
The most visible and disturbing impacts of this marine plastics leakage are the ingestion, suffocation, and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. As seabirds, whales, fish, and turtles mistake plastic waste for prey, most die of starvation as their stomachs fill with plastic debris. Marine Plastics are having drastic impacts upon the biodiversity, with unknown long-term consequences as the infiltrate through our food systems..
‘Every year 12 million tonnes of plastic find their way into our planet’s oceans that is the same weight as 1,188 Eiffel towers, causing an unprecedented crisis in the global marine environment.’
We wanted to do our part to mitigate these destructive impacts, and the RMF community expressed the same feelings towards the issue – we decided to step up to the challenge. To help reduce global plastic waste, we first needed to do research and analysis into where we would be most effective.
The Environment Agency’s National Packaging Waste Database shows that in 2020, 688,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste were exported – a daily average of 1.8 million kilos. A BBC report found ‘British’ plastic waste was dumped at illegal rubbish tips across the Province of Adana, Turkey. These ‘illegal’ rubbish camps directly cause plastic leakage into both terrestrial and marine environments. Marine Plastic waste is a global crisis; it’s fundamentally crucial that we tackle it with a worldwide response – so through “Repurpose”, you can contribute to organizations that:
‘Employ waste workers who retrieve landfill, incineration or ocean-bound waste directly from the source, by collecting waste from apartment buildings, office spaces, schools etc.’
Industry generates 62% of all waste in the UK; we believe that this shouldn’t be down to the individual to offset. We used a methodology that breaks down marine waste into per capita while utilizing household waste data to make sure we’re the community’s Marine plastic footprint. Our choice to focus on waste leakage amount rather than the general waste generation of individuals is that many people already help mitigate plastic waste by paying taxes on proper waste management systems within their own country; an example of this recycling rate in the UK.
Figure 1: Waste generation split by sources in the UK (2018)
Figure 2: Breakdown of waste from Households & recycling rates in the UK.
Through the following methodology we have derived an estimation of your region’s per capita plastic footprint on the oceans. This is a key step to empowering you in fighting climate change through individual action and accountability.
Modelling marine leakage from plastic waste (Marco plastics)
Our approach to modelling plastics consists of three main steps:
- estimating the mass of plastic ending up as waste
- quantifying the fraction of mismanaged waste
- estimating the release from the mismanaged waste fraction.
Marcoplastics waste mass total was obtained through secondary data collection through industrial/national statistics. The calculation for overall waste leakage is detailed below:
- Mismanaged Plastic Waste: MPW – Is the management pathways that lead to plastic entering the environment, it can travel through several pathways that include but are not limited to: Poor municipal waste management systems, littering, dumping, non-sanitary landfills. The difficulty in estimating this figure is due to the illegality of the actives such as burning tipping and littering.
- Plastic Waste Leakage: Leakagewaste – The proportion of your plastic that ends up in marine environments i.e., Oceans. This has been derived from the equation below. (Boucher et al., 2020)
- Release Rate: RR – Not all mismanaged waste is leaking into the marine environment; it’s the fraction of Mismanaged Plastic Waste that eventually ends up in Oceans.
The Release Rate is complicated to exactly calculate due to the poor understanding of release pathways and the lack of data in the scientific community. To overcome this issue, through literature investigations we have identified the following two methods of attaining the Release Rate:
A Release Rate of 25% has been cited in marine studies and by conservation organisations as the mean acceptable generic Release Rate value. Where field data has been provided to calculate Release rates, that is preferable. Given the possible discrepancies in this calculation, resulting from variations in actual field data, i.e wind direction, precipitation, erosion, human activity. The release rate is used to derive an indication of individuals or regions with the highest plastic footprint.
Where the region/country’s generic rate of release estimate, accounting for its waste management systems and geography is not available – the following methodology has been used to calculate the Release Rate (RR)
RRHigh – is the highest assumed rate of release – where generic values have been quoted in Marine studies and literature. (Jambeck et al., 2015)
RRfactor1 – Is dependent on a region’s proximity to the shore and the catchment Run-off of the watershed. This integer has been extracted from figure two. (Below) and investigations carried out by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).(Boucher et al., 2020)
Figure 3: Matrix for extrapolating the RRfacrtor, from the IUCN marine plastic footprint report. (Boucher et al., 2020)
Per Capita Marine Plastic Waste leakage:
This represents individual contribution to plastic waste that ends up in ocean environments. After calculating a region’s plastic waste leakage, we contrast it using governmental data to generate a per capita estimation of Marine Plastic Footprint.
To further personalise your Marine Plastic Footprint, we developed a set of questions that help understand the amount of plastic you use regularly, plus your habits that might generate more plastic. We finally compile all this data to generate a tailored environmental footprint plan for you.
Case Study: The Baltic Basin
The methodology stated above was used in 2021 to map and research potential marine plastic leakage hotspots. The IUCN selected 12 countries with a total land surface of 370,000km2 to represent the Marine plastic footprint in the Baltic basin.
Three different hypotheses of release rate were chosen in the report. However, a 20% release rate was the central focus of the study, 5% less than the value we used. We selected this difference to slightly overestimate to ensure that we offset all our communities Marine plastic footprint.
The study concluded that macroplastics dominate the overall leakage rate, with an estimated leak waste of 22,210 tonnes per year. The high volume of plastic is due to above-average plastic generation rates, high population density and ineffective waste management strategies. When broken down into per capita waste leakage, the less populated countries appear to have the highest rate of waste leakage due to inefficient waste management. Overall, when per capita is considered, no country surpasses the 200g mark of macro plastic waste leakage per year per capita.
Figure 4:Marine Plastic Footprint per capita for countries in the Basltic Basin.(Boucher et al., 2020)
Breakdown of Marine Plastic Pollution:
“Out of a macroplastic Leakwaste total of 22,120 tonnes/year-1, 27 percent (5,972 tonnes) would be prone to float on the surface, while 66 percent (14,600 tonnes) would adopt a more neutral pattern and oscillate in the water column, and the remaining 7 percent (1,548 tonnes) would sink to the sea floor.”
ICUN – Marine Plastic Footprint
Transparency Report – Biodiversity Protection
We wanted to do our part in mitigating deforestation and taking this a set further by encouraging sustainable consumption and production practices. The RMF community has expressed the same feeling towards the issue and as an organisation we have stepped up to the challenge. We have identified the leading accelerants of biodiversity loss through deforestation as ‘Forest Risk‘ commodities and used these to shape our action against deforestation. The UK Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs defines these as commodities causing widescale deforestation. The Global Canopy programme adds on to this definition by labelling these as:
“Globally traded goods and raw materials that originate from tropical forest ecosystems, either directly from within forest areas, or from areas previously under forest cover, whose extraction or production contributes significantly to global tropical deforestation and degradation”(Farnsworth Matt, 2021)
Major Forest-Risk Commodities : Beef, Palm Oil, Soy, Rubber & Leather.
Monitoring the unsustainable consumption of these commodities, through their value chain, will give RMF a comprehensive insight into our client’s individual and regional impact on biodiversity.
Figure 1: Fern investigation extract depicting the impact of forest risk commodity production and demand on tropical forests(Lawson, 2015)
Protecting Key Forestry areas
We are excited to play an active role in protecting forestry areas threatened by leading forest risk commodities. In this regard we have partnered with the ‘Orangutan Foundation’ who are actively protecting over 500,000 acres of Indonesian tropical rainforest, home to 5,000 critically endangered orangutans. A key threat to forestry in this region is ‘Palm Oil’ production.
The goal of our partnerships is to empower our community to act against deforestation by protecting vulnerable forest areas around the world. The biodiversity contribution in our subscription plans is calculated from per capita deforestation figures and is used to support the protection of forest areas threatened by Forest risk Commodities.
RMF Consumption Factor Indicator
One of our indicators on the individual impact we have on biodiversity is tied to our gross domestic product per capita. This is in part derived from a combination of the Environmental Kuznets Curve and the understanding that natural resources are the foundation of our socioeconomic systems, making natural resources the core of all our development needs.
Environmental Kuznets Curve : hypothesises that indicators of environmental degradation first rise and then fall with increasing income per capita. This is demonstrated in the EKC below :
Figure 2: Environmental Kuznets Curve. (Stern, 2004)(Pettinger Tejvan, 2019)
The key takeaway from this plot is the global degradation of the environment in the pursuit of economic development. The low degradation from service-based economies is often a result of their ability to offshore production and other industrial activities. Therefore, from a global perspective , service-based economies will continue to have a negative impact on the environment. This is demonstrated by each region’s contribution to non-domestic deforestation levels found in the 2021 nature ecology and evolution study below, with the majority of deforestation in service-based economies being non-domestic.
Figure 3: Nature & Ecology Evolution journal study mapping out the deforestation footprint per capita for 24 countries in m2. (Hoang and Kanemoto, 2021)
Using the understanding that resource extraction currently underpins our socioeconomic systems we have linked GDP to deforestation by equating the average global GDP, to the current average global deforestation levels. In doing so the consumption factor acts as an indicator for each country’s contribution to these deforestation levels. This helps us identify the action required at a regional level to restore and maintain global biodiversity.
The common gap in this theory is that it doesn’t account for nations that have achieved a good per capita income with low degradation rates, while on the other hand, it doesn’t account for nations that have a bad per capita income with high forest degradation rates.
- Ritchie Hannah, & Roser Max. (2020). Emissions by sector – Our World in Data. Our World In Data. https://ourworldindata.org/emissions-by-sector
- Scarborough, P., Appleby, P. N., Mizdrak, A., Briggs, A. D. M., Travis, R. C., Bradbury, K. E., & Key, T. J. (2014). Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic Change, 125(2), 179–192. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1
Marine Plastic Waste
- Boucher, J., Billard, G., Simeone, E., & Sousa, J. (2020). The marine plastic footprint. In The marine plastic footprint. https://doi.org/10.2305/iucn.ch.2020.01.en
- Jambeck, J. R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T. R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., Narayan, R., & Law, K. L. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1260352
- Farnsworth Matt (2021) Forest Risk Commodity – UK changes | RPS, RPS. Available at: https://www.rpsgroup.com/services/environment/sustainability-and-climate-resilience/expertise/forest-risk-commodity/ (Accessed: 4 August 2021).
- Hoang, N. T. and Kanemoto, K. (2021) ‘Mapping the deforestation footprint of nations reveals growing threat to tropical forests’, Nature Ecology and Evolution. Nature Research, 5(6), pp. 845–853. doi: 10.1038/S41559-021-01417-Z.
- Lawson, S. (2015) ‘Stolen goods: The EU’s complicity illegal tropical deforestation’, Fern, (March), p. 28. Available at: http://www.fern.org/node/5855.
- Pettinger Tejvan (2019) Environmental Kuznets curve – Economics Help, Economics. Available at: https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/14337/environment/environmental-kuznets-curve/ (Accessed: 4 August 2021).
- Stern, D. I. (2004) ‘The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve’, World Development. Pergamon, 32(8), pp. 1419–1439. doi: 10.1016/J.WORLDDEV.2004.03.004.