Climate-proof your business

Why should a company act for climate change?

We are all part of the problem, so we can all be part of the solution! Since the causes of climate change are deeply rooted in our way of living, change needs to happen on all levels in society. From the governments setting the right direction, all the way to end consumers who choose what to purchase. In the middle, companies should align with the global goals, and provide products and services which are truly sustainable and don’t harm the planet.

What should they actually do?

The first step is to understand how the company is contributing to climate change. The best way to do this is to analyze its operations and find out where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arise (in production, from energy consumption, or in the value chain?), and quantify the impact on the climate. GoClimate helps companies follow the international reporting standard to accurately measure the GHG emissions.

Once the company knows their climate impact, it is time to set a goal in line with the Paris Agreement to keep the increase of global temperature below 1,5°C. Knowing what emissions are caused in our base year (the first year we measure), we can set the ambition to reduce the emissions. At this point, we also know which part of the business is causing the most emissions, and GoClimate offers guidance on how to reduce these emissions in the most efficient way possible. Then, we can follow up on a yearly basis if the company is successful in reaching these goals.

A way to take responsibility for the emissions that cannot be abated immediately, is to offset the emissions. This is done by purchasing a corresponding amount of carbon credits from projects that avoid emissions elsewhere, or in some cases capture carbon from the atmosphere. GoClimate offers offsetting from high-quality projects certified by Gold Standard

Sidrap Wind Energy Park in Indonesia
With carbon offsetting, we make sure that this wind farm is being paid for, to the benefit of the local population in South Sulawesi, Indonesia

What are the benefits of doing this?

First and foremost, we do our part in ensuring a livable planet for ourselves and our children. As if this wasn’t enough, we simultaneously risk-proof our own business by understanding if we are currently a part of the problem, and how we can be part of the solution.

Some other positive effects are:

·      Attracting more talent – employees care about the company they work for! This is true for new hires as well as for retention of the existing team.

·      More customers – this gives an advantage over competitors, as sustainability becomes a key parameter when choosing suppliers and service providers

·      Sustainability efforts also offer a marketing advantage

GoClimate is your partner

Reach out to us, and we can help you understand what this would look like for your  company and offer support based on your needs. GoClimate will be there to answer any and all questions, and make this journey as smooth as possible for you. Get in touch by sending us an email at [email protected]

READ MORE: 

The 1.5°C Business Playbook helps organizations to set a 1.5°C aligned strategy and move to action. It focuses on simplicity and speed and is anchored in the latest science

Science-based targets show companies how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

More support to wind energy in Aruba

We have now offset another 50,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!

Cactus overlooking the energy production

This is our project

Aruba is one of the islands moving towards reduced dependency on fossil fuels and increased share of renewables. The first initiative for wind energy production on the island is the Wind Park Vader Piet N.V, which we are supporting through the purchase of carbon credits! This is the second time we support this project, so find the first blog post about the project HERE.

This wind park consists of 10 wind turbines that are located on an uninhabited part of the island. With a production capacity of 3 MW each, these turbines supply 12-14% of the total energy needed on the island! Since all energy consumed before the implementation of this project came from fossil fuel, the carbon intensity of the electricity available on the island was very high. Fortunately, Wind Park Vader Piet N.V has instigated a change for the better.

More support from GoClimate

We purchased credits (the proof of avoided emissions, expressed in tonnes of CO2) from this project last year in September, and now decided to do a second purchase. The climate projects issue new credits every year, corresponding to the amount of avoided emissions they can prove each year. Hence, with the kind of credits that we purchase from Gold Standard certified projects, we know that the emissions have already been avoided.

The continuous support that the project receives from selling credits every year makes sure that they can, for example, pay back loans that they had to take to build the wind power plants, and ensures the financial sustainability of the project. When the project is planned, this financial support from selling credits is taken into account in the economic balance. The project developer has to show that without this economic support, the project would not be financially feasible. This is what is referred to as ‘Additionality’ when we talk about climate projects.

Imported wings for the wind power plants came by boat to Aruba

What are the larger implications?

Vader Piet has permission to sell credits for 10 years. This has been an interesting time for the island Aruba. We have been talking to the electricity company on the island, WEB Aruba N.V., on what this has meant for them, and this has been proof that there is more that can be done in the area of renewables. It is especially impactful when we can support a project that is the first of its kind in a place, such as this one.

We have previously also supported the Sidrap Wind Energy Project, the first wind power park in Indonesia. This is important both for the public, to see for themselves what a wind energy park can do. Moreover, provides a great learning opportunity for local professionals to learn new skills, which can be replicable in future projects. Aruba is now in the planning stage of a second wind power plant, and we are so exited to be a part of that story!

Read more about the project in the Gold Standard Registry

A big thanks to all of you for enabling this development!

Do you want to contribute to this, and other similar projects? Calculate your carbon footprint and start your offsetting today!

How to make a sustainable film – behind the scenes

The Bunch, a group of amazing freeskiers, just released their seventh film “Is there time for matching socks“. During the entire production a main focus was to keep the greenhouse gas emissions down. We talked to The Bunch members Magnus and Alric to get some insights and key learnings on how to make a sustainable film.

Is there time for matching socks – a carbon offsetted film production. Photo and graphic design: Alric Ljughager 

The film was shot in Sweden, Norway, France, Russia, Switzerland, Japan and Canada during 171 days and resulted in 41 tonnes of CO2 emissions. That is 459 tonnes below the average film production and probably way below a big screen play’ emissions. So, what did they do differently?

The film production resulted in 41 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Photo and graphic design: Alric Ljughager

Climate-friendly options for producing films

Hello The Bunch, how did you keep the carbon footprint at a minimum?
We mainly ate vegetarian and vegan food resulting in a high intake of potatoes and beetroot salad in Russia :). There’s definitely room for improvement in some countries when it comes to trying to cut down on meat. But overall it was an interesting experience. 

We also decided to take the train whenever possible. We travelled to the Alps and back from Stockholm, Sweden twice. And we spent 70-80 hours on Russian trains going to both Kirov and Sochi. 

How was your experience spending such a big amount of time on the train?
It was a great experience with lots of fun memories. It does of course come with a bit of hustling and it’s more time consuming than travelling by plane, but the benefits outweigh it. Most of our time was spent in the dining car playing cards, talking to Russians and challenging them in arm wrestling. That would not have happened on a plane. It was really memorable and gave us great laughs. 

For a 2-3 week long trip, spending a few more days on traveling isn’t a big deal. We really like to fully experience the local culture and not only check in to a hotel, spend days on the mountains without seeing any locals at all and then take the next flight to another mountain. On the opposite, we love to shoot in the middle of the streets in a city, it creates really interesting encounters which wouldn’t have taken place on another set.

In what other ways do you take climate action?
Even if this is the first movie production we have calculated the carbon footprint for, we have always been conscious about the way we travel and what we eat. We have turned down offers to go to the US and Japan just to avoid the emissions it would cause. We sell thrifted The Bunch merchandise on our website, we have an Insta account we’re we sell pre-loved stuff as helmets and skiis and we are promoting veggie food and a healthier lifestyle via #healthgangofficial.

The Bunch. Photo: Alric Ljughager

We at GoClimate are really impressed by The Bunch showing true leadership within the film industry. Our findings are that emissions caused by a production rarely are taken into consideration and when they are, numbers are not public. They are also great role models within the wintersport world, where transports with planes, helicopters and big cars are causing big amounts of greenhouse gases.

Transportation is the highest emission factor

In this film production the majority of the travels were made by train. The return trip from Sochi, Russia, was done by plane. A few seconds of the movie was shot in Japan by one of the Bunch members, who was there on another assignment. The emissions from that trip were also included in the calculations. The Canada trip was not planned but since there was no snow in Scandinavia and The Bunch’s Hackel was competing in Xgames realski with a tight deadline they made the decision to go there to finish up the X Games video. They filmed some shots for “Is There Time for Matching Socks” in between shooting for Xgames realski. That trip included three round trips from Stockholm to Quebec, which generated a big part of the overall emissions for the film.

The diet consisted of around 30% vegan food, 60% vegetarian food and 10% meat.

The carbon footprint by category

The full climate report can be found here.
Read more about the carbon footprint of the film industry here.

The Bunch. Photo: Alric Ljughager
The Bunch. Photo: Alric Ljughager
The Bunch. Photo: Alric Ljughager
The Bunch. Photo: Alric Ljughager
The Bunch. Photo: Alric Ljughager

The carbon footprint from film making

What’s the carbon footprint from film production and the movie industry? Intrigued by finding out the answer, we at GoClimate partnered up with some of the best freeskiers in the world, The Bunch, to calculate the carbon footprint of their seventh movie Is there time for matching socks. And started to dig into the emissions of the world of film making.

What is the carbon footprint of the film industry? Photo: Donald Edgar

Findings – carbon emissions from creating films

What we found out is that film productions in general do unfortunately not map their carbon footprint. Or, in the cases where the carbon footprint has been calculated, the data has not been made public.

According to a Swedish study all big studios in the US track their carbon footprint, with a couple of them making it public. But, when we dug deeper into this, looking at the carbon footprint of Disney Studios in particular, only the emissions from The Walt Disney Company as a whole is presented. Numbers related to the film production are not separated and publicly available.

According to the Guardian (2020) the average film is estimated to produce 500 tonnes of CO2eq. The detailed data from the Swedish series Bäckström shows a carbon footprint of 240 tonnes CO2 for the full production, 40 tonnes per episode of 45 minutes.

We found data from a few recent wintersport films. Burton’s production, One World, had for example a carbon footprint of 1060 tonnes. 

Our calculations of The Bunch film production Is there time for matching socks ended up at 41 tonnes. To find out how they manage to keep the emissions so low compared to other films, click here. The full climate report for the film can be found here.

The carbon footprint of producing the film Is there time for matching socks was 41 tonnes.

A survey on the view of the individual carbon footprint, carbon offsetting and GoClimate

During the summer 2020, we conducted a Swedish and an English survey with ten questions among all the people who offset their carbon footprint with GoClimate. A whopping 620 people participated, corresponding to 13% of our members at that point in time.

According to our English survey, 76% have reduced their carbon footprint since they joined GoClimate. Among other things, they have installed solar panels, they eat less meat, fly less and eat more vegan food than before. 23% say that they have not made any changes to impact their carbon footprint and 0.6% (1 person) say that they have increased their footprint.

In response to the question of how they view their personal carbon footprint, around 90% of the English respondants (80% of the Swedish) state that they are working actively to reduce their footprint. 3% say that they would like to, but don’t know how. Another 4% say that they are not working actively with reducing their footprint. Political actions and financial incentives are mentioned as critical parts to enable necessary lifestyle changes.

What's your attitude to your individual carbon footprint? This diagrams shows the number of people who use carbon offsetting that are actively working on reducing their carbon footprint and how many that are not.
90% of all members that carbon offset say they are working on reducing their carbon footprint.

Most members are happy with our calculator and the type of projects we support. What we can get better at is providing guidance and support to reduce the carbon footprint. Over 20% didn’t know that we have a blog, where we educate on topics related to the carbon footprint and offer tips for how to reduce the emissions.

The reasons for our members to carbon offset with GoClimate is that it’s easy, that people want to do everything they can for the environment, and because there are parts of the carbon footprint which are hard to amend. Other reasons are that GoClimate is a small organization offering transparency about where the money goes, and that it’s perceived as clear, agile and trustworthy. This is an easy way to make an extra difference for the climate, adding to what is already done in the everyday life by these committed people.

Among the respondents behavioral change was considered important to stop climate change. The answer to the question “How important do you think behavioral change is to stop climate change?” was 8.8 in average on a scale 0-10.

The majority of the respondents found out about us via recommendations and social media. So please keep discussing the climate with friends, tell them about us and share blog posts and our infographics on Instagram.

Find the results of the 2019 member survey on carbon footprint, carbon offsetting and GoClimate here.

GoClimate New Year’s Resolutions for 2021!

One year ago, the GoClimate team set our climate resolutions for 2020 – personal challenges, because for us saving the climate is more than a job, it’s a life mission. This is an overwhelming task, and therefore setting a specific goal to a specific time frame makes it all more approachable. Now we have another new year ahead of us to make better habits for the future!

CECILIA :star2:

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to participate in twice as many climate strikes compared to 2019. And then Covid19 happened. For 2021, my resolution will be “Spread the word” – to talk more about the climate crisis and the climate action I am taking via social media and with my friends in order to hopefully inspire others to take action.

ALEXANDRA:star2:

My new year’s resolution for this year was to stay on the ground and not travel by plane. It was easier than I had expected and it reduced my carbon footprint with 3.19 tonnes compared to 2019. For 2021, my climate commitment is to move one step closer to a vegan diet. I have been a vegetarian for 10+ years, and for next year my intention is to only eat egg/dairy products when they are served by someone else. That means, at home and at restaurants/cafes I will always choose vegan, but if I’m invited to a dinner I will accept vegetarian food. Curious to see what challenges this will bring me and how I can handle that!

Home made salad w quinoa, hummus, veggies and fruits!

TOVE :star2:

I wish all climate actions came as easy to me as sticking to a vegan diet and not driving a fossil-fuelled car, but staying on the ground is a huge challenge to me. It breaks my heart on a regular basis that catching a flight to London, which I consider my second home, is no longer an option for me as I simply can’t justify the harm it causes the planet. My resolution for 2021 is to look closer into climate friendly alternatives to flying, rather than giving long-distance traveling up altogether (which has been the situation in 2020, needless to say). I’m excited to look in to options by road and rail and aim to make the actual travelling a fun part of the experience too, making it an adventure rather than just a transfer.

STEFAN :star:

My new years resolution for 2021 is to think long-term with all of my purchases. I will only purchase brand-new products if I’m confident I will get at least 5 years of good use out of them.

KALLE :star:

For 2020, my new year’s resolution was to not buy any new clothes nor electronic devices. I aim to keep that going for the full year of 2021 as well.

EMMA :star:

I’ll continue sticking to my vegetarian diet, plus avoiding dairy. I will also make sure to cut out beef and lamb when feeding my dog (who’s moving in with Emma in January, welcome to the GoClimate family little one). Whenever I feel the need to buy new items, I make a list of what it is that I “need”. I then give it a week or two before asking myself if I still want or need it? If the answer is still a yes, I research if there are any other ways to achieve what it is that I crave other than making a purchase – perhaps renting or borrowing? Or can it at least be bought second hand? If buying a newly produced item is the only option, I compare alternatives and chose the one with the seemingly lowest climate impact.

The carbon footprint of public consumption

By now, it has become evident that almost all of our choices have an impact on the climate. Still, there are some factors that affect our carbon footprint, which we only have a limited ability to choose – the public emissions. These are the emissions caused by society (state, county and municipality), whose benefits we share and whose carbon bill we have to split in between us. Let’s take a closer look at what these are!

Authorities

A large responsibility that we entrust our states with is to provide safety and justice for its citizens. Therefore, this category includes emissions caused by the police, the judiciary, political activity, environmental protection, and the military. The emissions for this vary widely between countries, and is not regularly disclosed. Some estimates say that the UK military causes 13 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is 195 kg co2e per person. One study from a city in Sweden determined that the emissions from authorities were 520 kg co2e per person.

Fire fighters

Health and social care

This makes up about 4% of carbon emissions in the largest economies, resulting in an average carbon footprint of healthcare of 600 kg co2e per person. The US is a major outlier here with 1510 kg co2e per capita. On the other hand, since healthcare is largely privatized in the US, the emissions are not shared equally by all citizens. Another area to consider is the care facilities for children, elder and people with special needs. Emissions from social care are difficult to estimate.

Education

This varies significantly between countries, depending on how to account for private education. Data from a study on a city in Sweden shows that the emissions from the education system amount to 220 kg co2e per person. Noting that all education, including universities, is publicly funded Sweden (and school lunch is included), this number could well be both lower or higher in other places.

Public education

Recreations, culture and sports

Public spending on these categories vary significantly from country to country and can sometimes, such in the case of world championships or olympic games, soar through the roof. Data from a study on a city in Sweden shows that the emissions from recreations, culture and sports amount to 90 kg co2e per person. This could be a reasonable baseline for a European or north American person, excluding large scale events. 

Construction

This includes infrastructure maintenance, and construction of roads and tracks. Again, this will vary widely depending on where you live. It fluctuates depending on how much the state invests, so the economic situation is an important determinant. Data from a study on a city in Sweden shows that the emissions from construction are 220 kg co2e per person, however, this can be both lower and higher in other places.

Public transport

Since public transport is often subsidized by public funds, this post covers the emissions that result from everything other than the emissions per passenger km, which are included in the personal travel category. In Gothenburg, Sweden, public funds cover 50% of the public transport, and there the emissions from public transport reach 50 kg co2e per person. Again, this will vary a lot between places.

Public transportation

… and yet more

There can be more posts for public emissions, varying between place and methodology. This can range from agricultural subsidies or the EU membership fees, to financing the royal family in a monarchy. 

It might seem unfair that you are held accountable for road works, when you don’t drive. But remember that this is how food gets to the supermarket, and how other things that you get benefits reach their destinations. It may seem unfair that you are held accountable for the emissions from the education system, or the healthcare system. Regardless, this is the contract that we all agree on as citizens of a state. We are also the ones funding it with our taxes. 

Impact society beyond your own emissions

The ability to impact these emissions are more indirect than for our personal consumption. However, if we invest energy in reducing these emissions, our impact goes well beyond our own carbon footprint. Therefore, if we want to take climate change seriously, we need to become active in this sphere too. From the bare minimum of voting for politicians who have ambitious climate action on their agenda, to joining civil society organizations to campaign for green policies. Or maybe even join a party yourself? This effort has to permeate all sectors and everything we do!

Do you work in the education or healthcare system? Maybe you can be the one to raise the question of renewable energy with the board! Do you see something in your community that could be improved? Contact your local representative! This way, we take collective responsibility for the climate and support the democratic process. When we show our commitment, politicians can enforce serious climate policy on the national and international scale. But they will not do it unless we show that this is what we want.

Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Read the other posts in this series:

Me and my carbon footprint
What is a “carbon footprint”?
The carbon footprint of a home
The carbon footprint of a diet
The carbon footprint of our traveling
The carbon footprint of long distance traveling
The carbon footprint of shopping
The carbon footprint of public consumption

Or go to www.goclimate.com to calculate your carbon footprint now!

The carbon footprint of shopping

One share of our emissions come from the category broadly defined as “shopping”. This is an area where we spend much of our energy thinking about how we can be climate or environment friendly. Perhaps this is because it feels like we can control it, and how we spend (or not spend) our money defines our identity to some extent. 

Where does your money go? This is not directly proportional to our emissions, but an indication of where your emissions come from. Also, the wealthier we are, the higher emissions we have. When looking at our bills and bank statements, we get proof of our consumption behavior. It is possible to estimate emissions based on the money spent, however, often what is best for the climate is to make one sustainable purchase and stick to it, rather than cheaper ones which need replacement. So a long-lasting investment looks like it has high emissions, even though it balances up over time. 

Let’s look at some of our main spending categories and their associated emissions!

Clothes and shoes

A lot has been written about the climate impact of fashion. There is even a specific fashion footprint calculator if you want to know the climate impact of your wardrobe! The footprint of a pair of jeans is approx 15 – 20 kg co2e, a t-shirt just above 2 kg. Weight of the item is a good indicator of the footprint, although material matters a lot too. Polyester has twice the carbon footprint of cotton.

Do’s: Buy long-lasting garments from sustainable brands. Buy second hand and resell/donate your used garments. Avoid tumble-drying. Mend what’s broken!

Borrowed, second hand, up-cycled?

Electronics

The purchase of electronics has a high footprint mainly due to the mining of minerals. The footprint of a new smartphone is around 70 kg co2e, a new laptop in the range 200-400 kg. Again, weight of the item is a good indicator of the footprint. Some major electronics companies are moving towards carbon neutrality! This is usually a significant investment for a person, so it is worth doing some extra research on the product’s sustainability before spending hundreds of dollars.

Do’s: Use your products for as long as possible, and repair them if they break. Purchase second hand or from sustainable brands.

Communication

Staying connected is good! The consequence is that the carbon footprint of the internet is ever increasing, which we have discussed elsewhere. In our calculator, the carbon footprint of your internet use is partially included in the home category, as this covers your electricity. The per capita carbon footprint of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in Sweden was 140 kg co2e in 2015. This has probably increased by now, but is still comparatively low to other emission sources. 

Do’s: Use the internet mindfully! And don’t worry too much. 

Consider what you buy, but use it guilt-free.

Leisure, entertainment and culture

This category is so broad that it’s impact is near impossible to describe. The carbon footprint of an average American film is 500 tons of co2e, and the 2010 South Africa World Cup was 2.8 million tons. But how do you even measure how many people benefit from this? And at the other end of the spectrum is an acoustic concert at your local bar, which probably has a negligible impact on the climate. What sports do you practice? Do you need particular equipment for that? 

Do’s: Consider if your entertainment is fossil free. If you find that it isn’t, search for a way to improve it!

Pets

Animals mainly contribute to climate change via their diet. The good news is that their fodder is often waste/leftover from meat production for human consumption, so it’s impact is less than for human food. But it is still considerable – one study found that the annual carbon footprint of an average dog ranges from 349–1.424 kg co2e

Do’s: Beef has the highest carbon footprint, so consider fodder made from poultry or fish. If possible, consider a vegan/vegetarian alternative food. Don’t feed your pets more than they need. 

Natural meat lover!

Furniture, household items, maintenance

Swedes especially love to renovate and re-style their homes. Redo the kitchen, new furniture, fresh bathroom – construction generally has a high carbon footprint. Although wood and some other materials bind carbon, what we are generally concerned with is the turnover rate. A couch can have a carbon footprint of 90 kg co2e, and an office chair 70 kg. Material choice is key here, where steel and metals have higher footprint than other materials such as synthetic fibers and cotton. 

Do’s: Use your products for as long as possible, and repair them if they break. Purchase second hand or from sustainable brands. Consider if you can repaint or reuse something you have instead of purchasing new items. 

Irregular purchases

Some sources of emissions are more irregular, but have a high carbon footprint. Buying a home or a vacation house, for example, or buying a car or a boat, have high footprints – the carbon footprint of a conventional car is 7 tonnes co2e, and an electric car 10 tonnes. These purchases may only happen a few times in our lifetimes, but our recommendation is that whenever we make investments, we should consider the sustainability of it. 

Do’s: The more money you spend, the more time you should invest in researching the sustainability and climate impact of your purchase. 

Healthcare and education

In Sweden and some other countries, this is funded by taxes and thus not included in the private consumption. Because of variability in methodology and other factors, the carbon footprint of a university can range from 2507670 kg co2e per student. This depends among other things on campus facilities and investments. Healthcare makes up about 4% of carbon emissions in the largest economies, resulting in an average carbon footprint of healthcare of 600 kg co2e per capita. The US is a major outlier here with 1510 kg co2e per capita. 

How do you spend your money?

Considering all of the above, it is apparent that there are many factors to consider to understand our carbon footprints, and to use a calculator that takes all factors into consideration is near impossible. Another way to make approximations is to use CO2 emissions per money spent, where in Sweden the average euro spent causes emissions of 0,44 kg co2e (noting that a weighted average is slightly lower, 0,3 kg per euro).

It is worth mentioning that climate friendly and environmentally friendly, although strongly interconnected, does not always lead to the same priority of actions. Hence, sustainability requires us to keep several parameters in mind simultaneously, and that can often be confusing. What is important is to not fall into the trap of either/or, but stick to doing our best and hopefully do more/both.

Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Read the other posts in this series:

Me and my carbon footprint
What is a “carbon footprint”?
The carbon footprint of a home
The carbon footprint of a diet
The carbon footprint of our traveling
The carbon footprint of long distance traveling
The carbon footprint of shopping
The carbon footprint of public consumption

Or go to www.goclimate.com to calculate your carbon footprint now!

The carbon footprint of long distance traveling

“Does it really matter that much if I fly?” – it’s the question that all of us who both love to travel and care about the climate ask ourselves. The short answer is yes, because it is such a large part of the emissions you as an individual can control. But let’s investigate a little more!

According to the European Environment Agency, aviation globally accounts for 3 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions. It may not sound like much, but to this we must also add the radiative forcing index* which increases the impact on the climate by another 70-90%. 

Moreover, the impact from flights is not evenly distributed over the earth’s population – 80% of the earth’s population has never flown (estimate)! So we who fly contribute a disproportionate amount. International flight traffic from Sweden has actually increased by more than 90% since 2005! We who fly thus belong to a relatively small group that contributes very much to this part of the global emissions.

Are you a frequent flyer?

How much does a flight actually emit?

Considering the radiative forcing index and the most complete calculations of fuel production and consumption, one passenger flight hour causes approx 200 kg CO2e. This is a rough estimate as many factors are unknown; airplane model, wind speed, occupancy rate etc., but is a good rule of thumb to get the right perspective.

So this is how much long flights can add to your carbon footprint:

  • London – Rome – 290 kg CO2e
  • London – New York – 857 kg CO2e
  • London – Cape Town – 2311 kg CO2e
  • London – Sydney – 4905 kg CO2e

In comparison, traveling from London to Rome by train emits only 52,2 kg of CO2e – but it sure takes a lot more time too. 

What can we do to reduce our emissions from flights?

The first question to ask is, can the flight be avoided? Many business meetings could be held remotely, and save a lot of stress for workers as well. But business travelers make up only 12% of passengers, so the leisure trips are far more. 

Cut your flights with 50% – there are two ways of doing this, either to fly half as often and maybe go every other year, or cut the distances in half. Instead of flying London to New York, perhaps Istanbul or Marrakesh could be interesting alternatives for half the CO2 budget. Or, you know, the train to Paris. 

Is there an alternative to flying? Train, or coach, is often the only imaginable option. This means we have to change our expectations, and make the journey part of the experience. Perhaps you can get an overnight train? Or get some work done? Or some alone time, finally catching up on that book you’ve been meaning to read. If you are going to meet someone, consider if they can meet you halfway. London to Rome is far, but perhaps a weekend in Lyon or Geneva could be a good compromise!

Seeing the bigger picture

It is evident that we need more change. Some push for it on an individual basis, like Mattias Goldmann who takes the train from northern Sweden to Barcelona, to companies improving night train connections within Europe to China building the next generation of high speed trains. Is there something you can do? Can you be a pioneer train rider, write letters to politicians, or engineer the next generation of trains? If we are to continue traveling, this all needs to be resolved!

*Radiative Forcing Index
This means that the climate impact of aviation is more than just carbon dioxide emissions, because emissions of water vapor and nitrogen oxides at high altitudes (from around 8000 m) and the condensation streaks from the plane also affect the climate. How this is calculated is very complex, as it depends on many different factors and the effect varies. A rough estimate lands on 70-90% higher climate impact than just carbon dioxide emissions – almost twice as much!

Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Read the other posts in this series:

Me and my carbon footprint
What is a “carbon footprint”?
The carbon footprint of a home
The carbon footprint of a diet
The carbon footprint of our traveling
The carbon footprint of long distance traveling
The carbon footprint of shopping
The carbon footprint of public consumption

Or go to www.goclimate.com to calculate your carbon footprint now!

The carbon footprint of our traveling

Us humans are really good at getting places. Nowadays, we do it both for fun and for necessity – and sometimes the line between fun and necessity is very blurry. There is no shame in traveling and wanting to go places! But how we do so has an impact on our climate, so it is worth considering how we travel, and how much we do so.

The average swede is responsible for emitting 1,96 tonnes of CO2 from travels every year – excluding international flights. The estimate for Germans is slightly lower – 1,56 tonnes. To reduce this number by 50% every decade can be tackled in two ways: reducing the number and distance of our journeys, and traveling by more climate-friendly modes. Using both strategies and adjusting our behavior as well as reducing the climate impact of our vehicles will take us all the way, literally!

How do you get to school or work every day?

What are the best ways to get around?

The zero emission options are walking and biking (obviously). Sure, producing bikes and shoes has a carbon footprint, but compared to all other means of transportation, it’s minimal. And if you take good care of your bike, it will last for decades! If you know how to bike and live in an area where it is safe enough to do so, it is also a healthy means of transportation. If you plan your trip using a service like google maps, you can see how long it takes you to get places by foot or by bike and in cities, it is often not much more than other alternatives. If the weather allows, this is a good option!

If walking or biking is not possible, the second best option is public transport. The big win here is that the emissions are shared with other travelers, but also that the number of vehicles used is significantly reduced. A standard bus can carry 50 passengers, so even if it’s only half full, it reduces congestion on the roads, and we need less cars! General emission per person traveling on a local bus is 90 grams of CO2 per km, and 30 grams for coach (long distance bus). If there is a rail option, that’s even less: 30 grams per passenger km for metro (London Underground) and 35 grams for light rail and tram. For long distance trains the emissions are 40 grams per passenger km in the UK, and only 6 gram for international trains. This depends on the energy source for the trains: in Sweden, almost all trains run on renewable energy, whereas in Germany many regional railways still operate on diesel.

Two million people travel in the London Underground every day

Does it really make a difference?

How does this compare to a car? The average diesel car in the EU emits 146 g co2 per km! This is five times more than taking the metro and 1,5 times as much as the local bus. And petrol (gasoline) cars are on par with that, at 148 g co2 per km in the EU. It is worth noting, however, that cars in the US emit significantly more – 252 g co2 per km, or 404 g co2 per mile. This is because the average car in the US is larger and consumes more gasoline than cars in the EU. The same is true for the Australian car fleet.

Commuting to work, 20 km per day 5 days per week for 47 weeks per year would thus result in:

  • 141 kg co2e by metro
  • 423 kg co2e by local bus
  • 701 kg co2e by diesel car (EU – 1 passenger)
  • 1210 kg co2e by gasoline car (USA – 1 passenger)

Drive in a better way?

What can be done about this? First of all, try to avoid unnecessary driving. If you have to go by car because there is no public transport, see if you can share the ride with someone, or plan your errands efficiently. If you are anyways going to the supermarket, maybe your neighbor could need a ride too, or just a bag of oranges? Another option is to join a carpool – there are even alternatives offering electric cars! For less frequent drives and especially in larger cities, this can be a great option.

Moreover, we need to use cars that are not as bad for the climate! If you can, using an electric car and running it on renewable energy is the best option. There are other alternative fuels that are also better for the climate than diesel and gasoline – see if you can find HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil), FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) or CNG (Compressed Natural Gas).

We need to stop using fossil fuel to power our vehicles

This post has covered everyday travels, but also check out the post on long-distance traveling.

Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Read the other posts in this series:

Me and my carbon footprint
What is a “carbon footprint”?
The carbon footprint of a home
The carbon footprint of a diet
The carbon footprint of our traveling
The carbon footprint of long distance traveling
The carbon footprint of shopping
The carbon footprint of public consumption

Or go to www.goclimate.com to calculate your carbon footprint now!