Carbon footprint for this trip, and this year

[part of a series of posts on my carbon footprint:]

This trip (specifically London to Sydney), I have estimated the distance to be 10000 miles or 16000kms by plane, taking about 20 hours flight time.

Because overland is a bit more circuitous, I have very generously doubled the distance for calculating those modes of transport. So 31000kms by train / bus plus perhaps 1000kms by ferry (Singapore to Indonesia, then through Indonesia to Darwin). And, this will take me about 90 days.

For calculating my footprint for this year, I added up what I know is attributable to me so far, then predict what travelling will use. I included both ‘business’ and ‘persona;l’ emissions in the one calculation. This will take me through to the start of April, when my ‘carbon year’ ends.

And, the estimate total comes out as: 7 tonnes

[Since first writing this post I have now calculate the actual, 7.5 tonnes, and  you can check the calculations yourself, here.

What changed from last year:

  • Much higher electricity consumption. Perhaps from living with some people who use a lot of power, and with relatively less people? And, was not on a green tarrif for most of the time (this change only kicked in about 1 month before I left the UK).
  • More long trips on trains and buses, plus I actually included all my work ones in this year’s calculation
  • 3.4 tonnes attributable to my trip back to Australian (compared to 5.4 tonnes if I flew)
  • I avoided 16 tonnes of flight-related emissions by choosing to travel by other means.

So, this means I have significantly reduced my carbon footprint – Hoorah! If I had have continued to fly, my footprint would be very large. 5.4 tonnes of carbon if I had have flown back to Australia, and an additional 5+ tonnes if my European train journeys were short-haul flights instead.

One potentially interesting aspect is that while traveling, energy, water, heating costs that were previously attributable to me, are instead now attributable to the hostels and other accomodation I stay in. This could mean that my carbon footprint is only the resources I use in transport, which we all know is not the case.

But, rather than try to apportion how much energy etc. etc. I will use staying in accommodation I am going to email the Youth Hostels Association to see what their stance is. I can tell you that so far (late November) I have spent about half the nights sleeping on trains, and the other half in accommodation that uses very little energy at all – no heating, barely any lighting, many people per room, and in some cases no electricity at all!


3 responses to “Carbon footprint for this trip, and this year

  1. Hey Andrew,
    I didn’t look through all your links, but haven’t found much on the carbon footprint of ferries. It probably varies wildly, and would be good to have an analysis of this. I took a ferry along the Alaska coast last year and thought I was doing good by not flying, but am now under the impression that ferries are not as great as I thought. If you’ve come across anything on this topic, let me know!
    big hugs and happy travels. I will follow your progress over the coming few weeks!

  2. Hi Kate, the conversion factors I used for ferries had were 0.75kg per km for ferries. This number was recommended by the CRAG group, and I think came from: Mark Lynas’ “Carbon Counter: Calculate your carbon footprint” Collins Gem, Glasgow 2007. Hope that helps! Or try this additional site for more recommended calculators:

  3. Pingback: My carbon footprint last year « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

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