Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Carbon Week: Day 3 ~ Analysis of My Carbon Footprint

In a nutshell my CO2 emission figures for 2006 are:
Aviation: 710 kg
Rail: 292kg
car: 107kg
Electricity: nil
gas: 1,255kg
food: 1,700kg
clothing: 300kg

TOTAL: 4,365kg (that's just under 4 1/2 tonnes)

I am feeling very smug and, ahem!
Please note how my green halo gleams and sparkles.

But wait. What in real terms does this actually mean? Well, checking this amount against bestfootforward, I discover that have I used up the equivalent of 2.5 global hectares last year. Worse, if everyone in the world lived like me we would still need 1.6 planets to support global consumption. Crikey. To be truly sustainable I'd need to reduce my emissions to roughly 2.500kg per year (which for me means knocking off 1,865kg; over a third) - and that's on the basis that we all reduce our emissions to this level as well.

So what can I do about mine? What carbs can I cut?

Three things leap out from the figures above:

1. Ditch the gas central heating. Renewables are clearly the way forward, but solar panels, wood fire burners and the like equals financial outlay, so this shan't be immediate. This shall have to be relegated to a medium term goal, and will report back as and when developments are possible. (Update re: wind turbine on my roof. Am still monitoring the potential wind factor on my roof. Update will be coming soon)

2.Axe travel by plane. (and car - especially after discovering that car emissions were so high) It has to go, save where essential, or impractical to do otherwise. Pound for pound, cheap flights are clearly the most damaging in CO2 terms, given that my calculations do not actually reflect the true damage (if multiplied by a further 2.7, that would take my emissions up by a further 1,917kgs - that's almost another 2 tonnes!) The final clincher for me is the recent controversy over contrails creating additional havoc to our atmosphere, as covered by the BBC in their recent Inside Out programme.

3. Sustainable food. Yes, something can be done with immediate effect here as well.
At Home: In November, I set myself the challenge of doing without my freezer. This is now empty and switched off, so that in itself will cut emissions. As this has only been out of service for 10 days to date, I haven't yet noticed any discernable impact or inconvenience, but will update on this as the three month challenge progresses.
Dining Out: I touched on the issue of sustainable fish in December. So, here be a few commitments:
Fish and meat ~ will eat if sustainable and provenance is local &/or organic
Water ~ After harrumpfing and thumping the table in agreement with Giles Coren's latest chew - on water - it can only be tap, Belu or UK derived. (Otherwise vodka will do as a substitute. Organic vodka.)

There is of course another alternative, which would take very little effort ....
I could Offset...

Coming Next: Carbon Offsetting - Greenwash or Golden opportunity

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