Going Beyond the Carbon Footprint Calculator

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The World Resources Forum has officially opened and the student reporters are reporting live. This is reason enough to shed light on some of our activities from an ecological point of view. Since we’ll be sleeping, breathing, and talking resources for the next three days, we thought it’d be interesting to see the resource footprint of getting our team to Beijing. We’re only looking at the carbon footprint for now, and using an easily accessible online calculator, we came up with a quick calculation.

  • 6.68 tonnes CO2e (4 people from Zürich to Beijing, return)
  • 4.63 tonnes CO2e (2 people from Philadelphia to Beijing, return)
  • 1.53 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Budapest to Beijing, return)
  • 0.47 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Hong Kong to Beijing, return)
  • 1.71 tonnes CO2e (1 person from London to Beijing, return)
  • 1.72 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Geneva to Beijing, return)
  • 1.80 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Zürich to Beijing via Helsinki, return)

This results in 18.54 tonnes CO2e for transporting 12 student reporters. Now this is just considering the flights. Consider now all the things that we haven’t included in our calculation. This includes the two reporters who live (relatively) close to Beijing. Add to this any other CO2 emitting activities in Beijing, like living in hotels and eating in restaurants, and the number will increase even further. How about we expand our calculation and consider everything from a macro-perspective by adding the emissions that were used during the extraction, processing, and use of resources to build the airplanes and cars, hotels and other infrastructure?

The next question, of course, is if these 18.54 tonnes CO2e are significant?

Student reporters from all over the world have gathered at the world resources forum 2012 in Beijing.

One way to look at this, is by considering the fact that this figure is higher than what many countries’ emitted per capita in the world in 2009. A more interesting example would be to assume that the whole group would consist of average meat eaters who chose a vegetarian diet to compensate for the carbon dioxide. To compensate solely for the flight emissions, we would all have to go vegan for about 9.3 months.

So what is this all about? Why are all of these young people in Beijing? Does any of this make any sense?
It does, for the following reasons:

  • Global problems require global networks to solve them. This is the message that is coming out of WRF 2012. Student reporters are young people coming from entirely different regions of the world who share similar concerns to solve environmental problems.
  • If only one of us picks up an idea at the forum and creates, for instance, an environmentally-friendly business, then this alone could compensate for the CO2 emissions of the flights and hopefully even more.
  • Blogging means informing. Good blogging means inducing a change in the target audience. As Xaver Edelmann put it, student reporters provide the vision of the next generation that can all too easily be missed.

In this sense, read our posts, learn with us, and help us to make the overall environmental balance sheet of this project significantly positive! For example by cycling to work tomorrow or by reconsidering those daily meals involving meat…

4 thoughts on “Going Beyond the Carbon Footprint Calculator

  1. Pingback: World Resources Forum 2012: Just Keep Smiling | Studentreporter

  2. Yes! Good to reflect on your own CO2 footprint (we at the WRF team have done it for our selves as well) and then indeed think whether the work we are doing, you are doing, outweighs the environmental damage. Like you, I think it does. We have been offering a platform for over 700 people, from all parts of the world, from all disciplines, to discuss the issue, to learn about solutions and to build partnerships. That will contribute, even if we don’t know to what extent, to achieving a better world. Thank you, Student Reporters, for being at WRF 2012. All results, summaries, pictures and videos will become available, starting next week, as soon as the team is back in Switzerland. Wishing you all safe travels home and hope to see and work with you in Davos, 2013.

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