How We Saved 30 Tonnes of CO2, by Hilde Kloeck

29 Dec 2021 09:15 | Lina Kriskova (Administrator)

(This article was originally published in ICMTA Members' Newsletter in July 2020.)

Sadly, our ICMTA Teacher Gathering in Prague this year didn’t happen because of Covid-19. However, we had a wonderful online gathering instead with lots of dancing, an awesome General Assembly and break-out rooms with different conversations. I joined the room talking about the Climate Crisis. We started exploring this huge topic tenderly, realizing that we are just starting on an intriguing journey. One comment from Sarah Davies stayed with me. She said: “What if we calculate the amount of carbon we didn’t emit by not coming together in Prague?” So I did!

With a little help from my friends, I made a hypothetical calculation of 40 people coming together in Prague from all over Europe and the USA. You can see the calculations in the spreadsheet on GoogleDocs here. We saved over 30 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted! 

Does that figure mean anything to you? 

To give you some context: If everybody had come by train (not actually possible, but just for comparison), we would have emitted 3,81 tonnes. If everybody had come by car (also not possible), we would have emitted 28,6 tonnes. If everybody came by plane, we would have emitted 32 tonnes. You can also compare it to the CO2 emissions in one year for the average European: 8,7 tonnes!

So, what did I learn from calculating this? I used three different calculators and got three very different results. The reason is that burning oil at high altitude actually causes a lot more global warming than burning it on the ground, due to an effect called 'radiative forcing'. So although flying uses about the same amount of fuel as driving alone in an average family car, it causes a lot more Climate Change. This effect is unfortunately a bit hard to calculate so different calculators multiply the CO2 figure by anything from 1.2 to 4.7 times - or even just ignore it altogether, which makes flying look misleadingly 'green'! I chose a calculator recommended by an independent researcher - Greentripper - which multiplies by a factor of 2. What would be interesting is to examine how this 30 tonnes relates to the 1.5° of warming that scientists agree we need to restrict average temperature rise to. I will try to look that up and report my findings in a future newsletter. 

The ICMTA is interested in developing some resources that would help us all as teachers address the Climate Emergency in our work.

Do you think about your environmental impact as a teacher?

And is there anything practical that you do to try and reduce the carbon footprint of your work?

We would love to hear from you with any practical things that you’re doing, however small!

We’d like to put together a collection of examples of the different ways we could each make a difference.

Please do share what you’re doing in this area by emailing us at info@icmta.com.

We would also love to hear your comments, questions and wishes around this theme. 

Thank you!

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