Thursday, 1 October 2009

get a life!

More and more people are discovering the joy of living a low carbon life. One of the first steps for our own empowerment starts with measuring our carbon footprint. This is the amount of carbon dioxide we emit each year as a result (mainly) of using fossil fuels: petrol, oil, gas and coal. There’s a good website for doing this. The Carbon Independent tool is both accurate and easy to use; it takes a few minutes.

Currently the average emissions for someone living in England is about 12 tonnes. The average emissions of someone living in India is about 1 tonne. That’s about where we have to get to (by 2050) and what the Copenhagen agreement is about, if we want to aim for a world where every person emits (consumes) equal amounts. In an unequal world we need to aim for 3 tonne living.

Over the last couple of years our family has been able to halve our emissions from about 9 tonnes to about 4.5, quite easily, through small steps that have also saved us money; I've documented many of them in this column. Roughly 1.2 tonnes of that is emitted for me by the government in terms of roads, hospitals and war.

One of the easiest ways to go on a carbon diet is to reduce inessential flights. A return flight to New Zealand or Australia emits 12 tonnes – doubling our annual load. To South Africa, Beijing and Bangkok it’s 6 tonnes; New York, India it’s 4 and to Greece, Moscow, it’s 2; Rome is one tonne and Dublin is .5 tonne. We’ve become rather addicted to non-essential flying and somewhat forgotten the joys of local living. So by getting a life you’re also getting other people a life. Which can only be good.

Source: 3 Tonne Handbook, written by Ann Link, a transitioner – available at Lewes Farmers Markets on the Lewes Pound stall.

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