Op-Ed: Calculating Your CO2 Footprint
Owning a Volt and a Prius, I like to think that I am fairly responsible when it comes to my CO2 emissions.
But am I?
I never really calculated my CO2 footprint. I tried once using a website but the site was not that relevant to my energy usage so I left it alone until yesterday when I saw an article in the NYT that layed out a pathway to limiting global warming to 2 degrees C during this century. The article said that by 2050 worldwide per capita CO2 emissions should be 1.6 tons of CO2 per year.
Calculating ones CO2 footprint is actually fairly easy and I would encourage everyone to do so. I think that you will find that your CO2 footprint is much larger than you think.
The first step is to collect data on your energy consumption. For most people, this is: 1) gasoline consumption in vehicles, 2) electricity consumption from the grid, and 3) energy consumption for heating.
Once you know how many gallons of gasoline you are using and how many kwh you are using from the grid (from your electric bills), you can calculate your CO2 footprint from some conversion factors I have listed in figure 2.
The author’s profile is shown in figure 3.
Figure 4 shows that the average US citizen emits 17 tons of CO2 per year
The article referenced in figure 5 claims we should get our per capita emissions down to 1.6 tons of CO2 per year by 2050 AD. This is a factor of 10 lower than where we are today.
So what is my footprint? It should be fairly low yes???……but wait……wrong George.
Low and behold me “mister green” has a CO2 footprint that is a factor of 2 higher than the 2050 goal.
The analysis showed that fully 44% of my emissions were from electric power plants. Arizona has power plant emissions on par with the national average (1.18 lb CO2/kwh).
Second highest source for the author was from gasoline burned in the Volt and the Prius. The Volt’s contribution was fairly negligible at 3%. The Volts electricity comes from our solar PV system on our house(3kw) and from the grid.
Third highest source was from the 300 gallons of propane I burn each winter to stay warm in our house in the “high desert” outside Phoenix, Az.
I am at 1⁄4 the national average but still a factor of 2 over where I need to be by 2050.
So how do I get to my goal of 1.6 tons of CO2??
I started working on this but it turns out to be a little harder than one might think. I will present the results in another article:
Anyone care to speculate on how to get there??