Carbon Footprints and Climate Change
- Did you know that every person, business, event and product leaves a carbon footprint and that Carbon footprints are the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by their activities?
- Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming and unfortunately, Greenhouse gas emissions keep going up and so does the earth’s temperature.
- The top 20 hottest years on record have all happened since 1998 and this is extremely worrying for the future of our planet.
- The average carbon footprint of a person varies from nation to nation: Citizens from China = 4.6T, Australia 20.6T, UK=9.7T, Kenya 0,3T. T= Tonnes
- CO2 accounts for 80% of all the greenhouse gas emissions.
- Extra CO2 is going in the air due to the burning of fossil fuels and chemical reactions such as cement mixing
- Here’s what happens when the Carbon-based fossil fuels are burned (correct mass shown):
- Trees are excellent at removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing lots of carbon and that’s because all plants live via a process called photosynthesis which uses CO2 from the atmosphere.
- 1 Tree stores on average 22kg of CO2 per year (European Environmental Agency) or 1 Tonne over its useful lifetime.
- We use averages as tree sequestration rates vary due to the type, age and location (climate, altitude) of the tree.
- 156 trees per year will absorb more Carbon than you produce in a year (in their lifetime) and help restore lost ecosystems, providing homes for flora and fauna and help restore the climate to what it was.
- Signing Up to play It Green £5 per month package plants 13 trees a month and 156 trees per year.
- These trees will absorb more Carbon in their lifetime than you produce each year and the more years you stay as a member of Play It Green, the bigger your impact on repairing our planet.
- We must also reduce our carbon footprint by reducing, reusing, recycling and refusing.
- Signing up to Play It Green will give you weekly tips on how to do this.
- Go on one of the most rewarding journeys of your life and take your next step to a more sustainable life with Play It Green
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N20) and Fluorinated gases are called greenhouse gases because they trap heat in the atmosphere which causes global warming.
CO2 accounts for around 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels which are all Carbon (C) based.
A slight increase in the amount of greenhouse gases means global temperatures rise and climate change.
The two main gases in the earth’s atmosphere are Nitrogen (78%) and Oxygen (21%).
The others gases make up far less of our atmosphere. Argon is only 0.93%, and Carbon Dioxide 0.04%. Trace amounts of other gases include helium, hydrogen, and methane etc.
The atmosphere is finely balanced and along with the earth’s temperature is the reason life thrives on earth. Any changes to these make it harder, for the existing life on this planet, to live.
Human activities are responsible for almost all the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the last 150 years. The biggest source continues to be the burning of fossil fuels.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is produced from chemical reactions such as making cement and the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.
CO2 remains by far the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Others are more powerful at trapping heat but there are less of them.
Fossil Fuels are coal, oil and natural gas which have taken millions of years to form and are therefore not renewable. This is the reason why we are transitioning to renewable energy sources such as wind turbines.
Methane (CH4) is produced from agricultural activities such as cow burps and waste management i.e. landfill sites and biomass burning.
Nitrous Oxide (N2O) caused by agricultural activities such as fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels.
Fluorinated gases (F-Gases) produced by industrial processes, refrigerators and use of various consumer products.
Global warming is the reason our climate is changing. Climate change refers to changes in weather patterns and growing seasons around the world. It also refers to sea level rises due to the expanding warmer seas and melting ice sheets and glaciers.
Climate change poses a serious threat to the existing life on earth due to flooding, extreme weather, and the resulting changes in ecosystems. It brings overwhelming negative social and economic repercussions.
It is estimated by 2050 at least 570 cities and some 800 million people will be exposed to rising seas and storm surges. Some will disappear and others will have to quickly adapt.
Coastal cities badly affected include those in east and south-east Asia, Africa, and the eastern and Gulf coasts of the United States. 90 US coastal cities are already experiencing chronic flooding. Three-quarters of European Cities will be affected by flooding, especially the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. The coming decades will be marked by the rise of ex-cities and climate migrants. Coastal living is becoming a liability: the costs of sea-level rise could rise to trillions of dollars a year in damages by 2100.
Climate change is happening however do not despair as responding to it involves a two-tier approach:
1. Mitigation i.e. reducing the flow of greenhouse gases and;
2. Adaption – learning to live and adapt to the new conditions. Together we will get through this.
A carbon footprint is an estimate of how much additional greenhouse gas emissions have taken place as a result of their activity.
This could be for a person, business, event or product.
For simplicity purposes, it is always expressed as a number in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). This is the amount of CO2 that would create the same amount of warming.
Buy a cup in a shop and it has a carbon footprint due to emissions from the manufacturing process and its transportation to the shop. It also has many more indirect emissions such as the emissions due to the extraction and processing of the raw materials to make the cup, or the machinery used in the cup factory, or the van used to transport the cup. Just this one cup, can provide you with thousands of different pathways to analyse if you wished to get an exact carbon footprint, so everyone tends to keep it as simple as possible.
A quick internet search will find you a carbon footprint calculator and they all just provide an estimate. There is no universal model so answers can vary however they do all follow the same basic principles.
The typical carbon footprint calculator for a person considers what nation they live in and how much and what type of the following is consumed over the year: home energy, travel, goods purchases and food.
The average carbon footprint of a person varies from nation to nation: Citizens from China = 4.6T, Australia 20.6T, UK=9.7T, Kenya 0,3T. T= Tonnes.
Signing up to Play It Green and it offsets your entire carbon footprint for the year and even does a little bit more. Why do more? Because we are simply doing more good and we cannot ignore the indirect emissions we play a part in.
What the CO2 offset in 12-month subscription equates to:
Carbon Footprint Offset*
Included Travel Carbon Offset
7500 car miles or 3 short-haul flights
Extra 35,000 car miles or 14 short (or 4 long)-haul flights
100000 car miles or 27 short (or 8 long) haul flights
Extra 7500 car miles or 1 short-haul family flight
Business – 1 Employee
7500 car miles Or 3 short-haul flights
Business – 1 Heavy Traveller
Extra 35000 car miles or 14 short (or4 long)-haul flights
* The average UK adult’s footprint is 9.7 Tonnes CO2 per year
*According to the department of transport the average person travels 7600 miles by car each year (included in 1 footprint)
An Average family car produces 2.07 tonnes of CO2 travelling 7500 miles (Carbonfootprint.com).
An Average distance of a short-haul flight is 700KM and produces an average of 251g of CO2/KM (BBC Study – data from BEIS/DEFRA). Thus, a short-haul flight produces an average of 175.7 tonnes of CO2. There are an average of 150 passengers on a short-haul flight (Department of transport) so each passenger has a footprint of 1.1 tonnes
Trees bring a multitude of benefits:
- Removes greenhouse gas CO2 so vital in combating climate change.
- Absorbs and filters water, preventing floods and waterborne disease.
- Provide habitat to 80% of the world’s biodiversity so help life to thrive.
- Forests provide jobs to 1.6 billion people globally [World Bank].
- Regulate climate in their surroundings resulting in less energy use.
- Absorb CO2 and release oxygen so clean the air we breathe.
- A key ingredient in ¼ of all medicines.
Carbon is captured through photosynthesis as the tree grows and it is stored in the leaves, branches, stems, bark and roots.
For example, with larger eucalyptus species that may be when it achieves mature growth at year 25-35. Within a 100-year project, 80% of sequestration would happen in the first 30 years.