Calculating carbon footprints A first step in greening small businesses

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Organisers of one CARIBSAVE project have been doing all they can not to leave an impression – at least on the environment.

The goal of the project is to train a cross-section of small businesses in Barbados’ coastal communities how to minimize their carbon footprint.

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide generated as a result of a particular activity, and the first step to reducing it is to calculate it.

Over six months in 2014, CARIBSAVE officers worked with representatives from the communities and the United Nations Development Programme’s Small Grants Fund to give local enterprises the tools to quantify their footprints – and shrink them.

In all, 15 businesses from the agricultural, craft, fisheries and tourism sectors were selected for the project and took part in a one-day workshop to determine the carbon impact of their operations.

This was followed up with telephone interviews and seminars to explore ways that each enterprise can adapt its activities and technology to reduce carbon output.

Smaller businesses often have the least access to the information and means to combat climate change, seeing little choice but to depend on fossil fuels to meet their energy needs.

‘The aim of this project is to give micro, small and medium-sized enterprises the training needed to tap into renewable energy and energy conservation,’ Project Officer Nikki Hassell said.

‘And by knowing how to calculate their carbon footprint, participants can see the real impact of making those changes.’