Edinburgh Hindu Community Become Masters of Carbon Reduction

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Edinburgh’s Hindu community has become the first in the UK to have its carbon footprint mapped, revealing how much it is contributing to climate change.

Carbon Masters chief executive Kevin Houston

This is a great example of a community taking responsibility for helping to reduce climate change and a precedent for others throughout the UK to follow.

Edinburgh’s Hindu community has become the first in the UK to have its carbon footprint mapped, revealing how much it is contributing to climate change.

The community, based at the Edinburgh Hindu Mandir and Cultural Centre, formerly St Andrews Church, on Leith Links commissioned the Carbon Masters consultancy to calculate its contribution to climate change. The study revealed that, on average, each member of the community produces 9.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year.

It has been given almost £50,000 of funding from the Climate Change Fund to help it reduce its collective emissions.

The money is being used to implement a carbon reduction plan to help individuals recycle more, buy more locally sourced food, use alternative forms of transport and save energy in their homes.

The1100-strong community with the help of Edinburgh University-based consultancy Carbon Masters carried out a study of its environmental impact last year.

The report revealed that the highest contributor to emissions was energy consumption, which accounted for 40% of each individual’s carbon footprint, transport and flights and food were both responsible for 24%, followed by consumables (8%), and leisure activities (4%).

Several cultural factors were evident in the Hindu community’s carbon footprint. A major contributor to high-energy use was the large number of bright, white lightbulbs popular in Hindu homes. The bulbs are not commonly available in the UK and most are bought in India where they are cheaper.

Food buying habits peculiar to the community also contributed. Most people buy fresh indigenous produce from local Asian stores rather than homegrown produce from supermarkets. A high number of international flights, most to India, but also to Africa, the Middle East and America had the effect of raising the community’s carbon footprint significantly. In addition individual car use was high within the community.

The next phase of the project will be to focus on challenging people to change their lifestyle. Drawing on the findings of the report, the initiative has come up with a range of ideas for making simple everyday cuts in carbon emissions that focus on community recycling, home energy checks, car-pooling, and creating community “carbon champions” to celebrate the people who make the biggest lifestyle changes.

Kevin Houston, the chief executive of Carbon Masters, said: “The carbon footprint report provides a baseline indication of the Edinburgh Hindu community’s emissions which demonstrates, clearly, the main areas that need attention.

“This is a great example of a community taking responsibility for helping to reduce climate change and a precedent for others throughout the UK to follow.”

Last weekend the community ran classes aimed at teaching members how to cook their favourite curry dishes using locally grown home grown vegetables in an attempt to reduce the amount of produce imported from India.

The event was oversubscribed and there are plans to run further classes throughout the year as a way of raising awareness about emissions as well as building community cohesion.

As well as publishing a report on carbon emissions the Hindu community has also produced awareness raising material.

The project manager for the initiative, Som Narayan, said: “While we are not allowed to use funding for any building materials, we can educate people about the benefits of things like double glazing and how much money they can save.

“Not everyone owns their own home, the decision may lie with the landlord but we can inform people about what to look for in a home and how to go about getting double glazing.

“We hope to be one of the most aspiring communities to become carbon neutral and having solar panels would be central to this.”

Som said the community was prompted to tackle the issue because it recognised carbon emissions produced in the west will ultimately have a disproportionate impact on people living in less developed countries.

“The carbon footprint report provides us with an invaluable resource that shows people where their carbon emissions come from” he said. “It quite clearly demonstrates the main areas that need attention and where we can begin to make the biggest carbon reductions.”

Notes to Editors:

  •     Carbon Masters(CM) provides carbon mitigation services to businesses and communities in developed and non-developed economies.
  •     Many of its services are facilitated by its patented software programme Carbon Guru which allows individuals and communities to measure, manage and report their carbon emissions. In addition CM has access to policy related research.
  •     The Carbon Masters Standard (CMS), the UK’s most challenging carbon reduction scheme, was recently approved by the Environment Agency.
  •     It requires companies and organisations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 3% every year, more than the six existing carbon emissions reduction and certification schemes which are all based on levels set by the Carbon Trust.
  •     It is aimed at the 2,784 UK companies and organisations that, from next April, will be required to pay a carbon tax under the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC).

For further information and high resolution photography, contact: Carlos Alba on 0141 637 6399 or 07880 505647.

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