How We Saved 30 Tonnes of CO2
...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!
by Hilde Kloeck, 14th August 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, realising 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!
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.