National carbon calculator: Can you cut UK emissions?

f you were in charge of energy and climate policy, how would you reduce the UK's carbon footprint? Build nuclear plants, change farming practices, move freight on to the railways? Reduce the amount of people flying?

By using our national carbon calculator – a kind of energy and emissions reckoner for the UK – you can now for the first time see how your preferred policies would actually stack up.

Want to electrify every car on the road? Just move the slider. Don't have enough power supply for that? Maybe add a few thousand wind turbines. Still can't get emissions low enough? Perhaps it's time to switch all homes to renewable heating systems.

This new interactive tool joins two others: our quick carbon calculator, which allows you to quickly get a sense of your personal carbon footprint, and our climate simulator, which shows how various global emissions scenarios may play out in terms of future temperatures. But this new one is, we think, by far the most exciting (not to mention the most complicated to build).

A few notes about the new calculator:

• The aim is to get emissions down while also balancing the grid.

• In its default state, it shows the UK as it is now – or, more accurately, as it was in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available.

• You can use it to paint a scenario for next year, 2020, 2050, or whenever you like.

• There's no fixed target: that depends on the date you have in mind and how much risk you're prepared to take with the climate.

• The calculator is based on a data model put together by Danny Chivers, largely from government figures but drawing on some other sources where necessary.

• The model includes the emissions created by the production of goods imported from other countries. Some would debate whether British consumers are entirely responsible for these "offshore emissions", but we felt it was important to include them. If you want to focus purely on domestic emissions, dragging the top slider to zero gives you a good approximation.