Carbon Emissions and the Cinquecento

I’ve been getting some flak for being “green/environmental” and then proceeding to spend 4 months bombing around the UK in a car. In actual fact we have driven 6121 miles this summer and the final straw was driving nearly 80 miles yesterday (when the trip was nearly officially over) to Formby Woods; an organic food shop in Liverpool and then for a pizza… After that I have vowed to put no more petrol into the car apart from trips where a car is deemed necessary.

This got me thinking. As we were no longer living in a house and therefore weren’t using as much gas and electricity and other carbon producing items, how would our gas-guzzling 900cc car fare?

I’ve done a few quick calculations to compare a standard UK person’s CO2 emissions with our non-standard emissions of the last 116 days.

According to Mark Lynas the average is 9,400kg (9.4 tonnes). Someone in India produces 1,200kg whereas the US/OZ are around the 20,000kg level.

The amount of fuel we bought (551 litres) during the summer corresponds approximately to 1280kg of CO2 emitted (you multiply litres by 2.32 to get this result) over 116 days. So individually pro-rated our yearly emissions would have been 2011kg. This is about a quarter of the UK’s average.

I admit this isn’t quite the whole picture. We used 1 CampingGaz canister during the summer, spent some time in houses, bought food, used some public transport and also had showers in the campsites and places we were staying. However having worked it out I feel somewhat less bad about our impact especially as a lot of the activities we were engaged in were environmentally beneficial (WWOOF for example).

I’m not advocating everyone goes and lives in a tent (it got very damp in Scotland…) but it shows that you can’t just say one thing is bad and another is good. To cite today’s Guardian where it shows middle class people feel they can take a long-haul flight because they have recycled every single sheet of paper in their house for instance! This seems to be a common statement as if recycling is going to save the world whereas it’s just the tip of the (melting) iceberg.

It has also given me an insight into the big difference between city living (Manchester where there is no excuse not to use public transport/cycle/walk) and rural communities in Scotland (1 bus a day, 10 miles to the nearest shop). In these situations why people rely on cars and therefore some sort of lift-sharing scheme would be more beneficial that perhaps having an empty bus running every 15 minutes.

Little Car

But anyway know we are back in civilisation with traffic jams, lights and cat’s eyes and driving is no longer a pleasure. On the Scottish Isles everybody waved as they passed which was hard-warming. So it’s back on the National Express for me over to Leeds on Friday. It’s much more relaxing on the M62 when you aren’t driving…

One thought on “Carbon Emissions and the Cinquecento”

  1. Right on Andy & Leanne! You guys are an inspiration to us all.

    Good to hear from you again. As you point out it seems the whole shabbang is accelerating towards unprecedented crisis and subsequent change (for the better, I am determined to hope). I feel really good about it in some ways – I tend to function best in a crisis and its very nice to be proven right about something so huge that so many people have accused me (and you no doubt) of being wrong and/or paranoid about. Bring on the smugfest! On the other hand, and this is the big news from our end, we’ve got a little one on the way within about 5 weeks! The world into which he or she (unknown until day one) will be born is not the world I would have chosen for him or her but I can only do my best to make it work. I think its really important to pass on the good stuff and endeavor to make things better.

    On that note I did manage to forsake the private sector for good and I am now the web producer for the RHS (this mysterious title means in effect either senior web designer or online creative director depending on how you look at it). I’ve only been here for about 5 weeks and am in the process of redesigning the site – which it has been in desperate need of. After all those years of being a tool in the private sector it is a profound breath of fresh air.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    All the best.

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