Calculating CO2 impact

Calculating the impact of your Do Actions is at the heart of Do Nation. This article explains how and why we calculate carbon savings for the Do Actions.


What impact does my action have?

Alone, very little. But together, they really do add up to make a big difference. Cliche, but true.

Each pledge makes a very real contribution towards that campaign's target - you can see that on the campaign page itself.

Within organisations, each of their campaigns then combine to form an even more meaningful impact. And if you then combine all the doers of Do Nation together, as we grow and grow, the difference could become pretty staggering.

42% of the UK’s carbon emissions are a result of individual’s actions, at home and in travel. That means that our actions, collectively, influence almost half of the nations carbon. So together we could make a pretty big difference.

Do you only measure CO2 impacts?

We also measure waste and water savings, although this impact data is only available through professional programmes, on the programme admin’s impact dashboards.

We believe in a lot more than just carbon, water and waste though. We're strong advocates of a more holistic view of sustainability: health, wellbeing, community, biodiversity, pollution - all of it matters.

Hopefully that’s made clear through the site. And one day, we might even have metrics for these too.

How do you calculate the carbon savings?

All our carbon, water, and waste metrics are prepared or reviewed by ERM, a world leading environmental consultancy.

For each Do Action there are a few short questions that allow us to calculate the difference between the carbon emissions created by the existing and pledged behaviours. Clearly there are a few (very sound) assumptions involved, and the numbers are more indicative of scale of impact than anything else.

It’s not designed to give you a robust and all-encompassing carbon footprint report, just an indication of the impact each Do Action could have over the two month pledge period.

We used UK national averages where appropriate and made a few other reasonable assumptions to help make the pledging process as straightforward as possible.

Some of these assumptions are:

  • People do the Do Actions over the full two months (their 'potential savings'). This gets adjusted when they return to confirm how they got on, depending on how they said they did - that's then published as their 'confirmed savings'.
  • We then calculate their 'annual savings' based off their confirmed savings and how much they said they'd continue it.
  • There are some one-off actions, such as Clean your bills and Light the way, which you do once and they immediately lock in a long-term saving. For these actions, the we calculate upfront the savings that will be accrued over 1 year.
  • An emission factor of 0.31598 kgCO2 per kWh of grid electricity (DEFRA conversion factors 2019) is used.
  • A fuel price conversion factor of 0.1839 £/kWh of electricity (BEIS 2019) was used.
  • The average household has 2.4 occupants.

Around 10 of our 60 Do Actions have no obvious or calculable carbon saving, yet we have decided to include them anyway because they are worthwhile actions that have a strong positive impact elsewhere. Sustainability isn't only about climate change, after all.

However, our system was designed to block any pledges with 0 kgCO2 carbon savings, as we are all about encouraging new actions and additional impact. In order to overcome this, we have given actions that have a strong but non-carbon impact a negligible saving of 1 kg CO2. Sure, it's not ideal, but we think it's a pragmatic work around for now. One day, we'd like to have a full range of impact metrics to measure actions by. Watch this space.

Measuring the impact of campaigns

Organisations with Pro or Plus accounts can view the impact of their campaigns via the admin dashboard within their organisation's page. 

This is outlined in more detail in our article: Measuring the impact of your campaign
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