15 UPC students aged between 20 and 31 with diverse cultural backgrounds and 7 different nationalities participated in the evaluation of their pre-COVID-19 and current, COVID-19-influenced lifestyle carbon footprint.
The SUSLA Carbon calculator (www.susla.app), co-developed by UPC under the lead of Prof. Torsten Masseck, has been used for this experiment, allowing for specific assessment of individual lifestyle carbon footprints in the fields of housing, mobility, leisure, food and consumption of goods.
An average pre-COVID-19 lifestyle carbon footprint of 12.9T CO2equ/pers*y has been reported with ranges between 4.4T and 21.6T. The sectorial distribution of the pre-COVID-19 lifestyle carbon footprint has been dominated by Leisure (29%) and Mobility (23%), followed by Food (22%), Housing (12%) and consumption of Goods (12%).
An average COVID-19 influenced lifestyle carbon footprint of 8.6T CO2 equ/pers*y has been reported with ranges between 5.6T and 20.1T. The sectorial distribution of the COVID-19 influenced lifestyle carbon footprint shows to be dominated by Food (32%) and Housing (24%), followed by Mobility (19%), Leisure (13%) and Consumption of Goods (12%).
An average overall reduction of lifestyle carbon footprints of the participants of 33% could be stated through this experiment.
Some students describe surprise and concerns about their elevated lifestyle carbon footprints and are generally surprised about the high impact of their pre-COVID-19 mobility patterns, which through COVID-19 related restrictions have changed essentially.
Conclusion are that the COVID-19 pandemic shows to have an elevated contribution to desired and undesired lifestyle changes, which may result in an important reduction of individual lifestyle carbon footprints. Further research might focus on how to maintain desired low-carbon lifestyle changes as well as how to revert undesired lifestyle changes due to COVID-19 through low-carbon alternatives in the future, instead of the return to carbon intensive pre-COVID-19 habits.