January 18th, 2022

What are your emissions?

By Submitted Article on January 17, 2020.


We hear in the media a lot of talk about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but few of us know how we contribute or how to calculate them for our own lives. And since it was probably this New Year’s resolution to learn, cut this out of The Herald and attached it to the fridge door.

Now, dig out your solar-powered calculator and your utility bills (or phone your provider) and follow along:

Home heating (natural gas): Add up the GJs (gigajoules) on your bill for the past year and multiply this number by 0.056 for your tonnes of GHGs.

For example, for a house that uses 120 GJ of natural gas over a year:

120 x 0.056 = 6.7 tonnes of GHGs.

Electricity: Add up the kWh for the year and multiply by 0.000688 for your tonnes of GHGs.

For example, for a house in Alberta that uses 7200 kWh of electricity over a year:

7200 x 0.000688 = 10.2 tonnes of GHGs.

Driving (gasoline): Multiply your gas mileage by the number of kilometers you drove in the past year and multiply by 0.0024 for your tonnes of GHGs.

For example, for a car that uses 12.1 litres per 100 kilometres driving 15,600 km last year:

12.1 x 15,600 / 100 = 1890 liters purchased. So, 1890 litres x 0.0024 = 4.5 tonnes.

For individual emissions, you can divide these numbers by the number of people living in the home or travelling in the car.

Food is tricky, but important. Assume that you eat about 2,600 calories a day, and according to Canadian statistics we waste about 40 per cent from farm to fork. (Interestingly, one-fifth of the total food produced is wasted in our homes). Our food is responsible for about 2.5 tonnes per person for a Canada Food Guide diet. This may be lower if you eat less meat or waste less food.

Now, what about your flying holiday? Google the flying distance between your home and your destination. Let’s say Lethbridge to Madrid, which is a 15,700 km return flight. Multiply this total by 0.000111 for your individual GHG emissions. In this example, 15,700 x 0.000111 = 1.7 tonnes.

Adding it all up, with two people in the home, the personal GHG emission in our example is just about 15 tonnes per year. This number would actually be a little low, as it does not include all of our consumer items.

The published number for Canadians is 16.7 tonnes per year which includes everything we do inside and outside our homes. By comparison, the United States is 15.7 tonnes per person; China is 7.7 tonnes; European Union is 7.0 tonnes; and India is 1.8 tonnes.

For some simple approaches to reduce your GHG emissions, please visit http://www.sage-environment.org.

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Interesting and thanks for the figures; however, there is more involved here than just per capita figures, and you know what “they” say about figures. Yes we can do better but I won’t be cutting this out of the paper nor posting it on my fridge. There are many factors that affect GHG and our impact on the planet. If we are really in a crisis, which I highly doubt, then possibly all those flaunting the said crisis should broaden their myopic viewpoint and give us a true picture.