Greetings from Melbourne, Australia!
I have been travelling by Greyhound bus across all of the East Coast, from Port Douglas to Melbourne over the past 3 weeks. 3500 kilometers on a bus in total! It was really cool to see so much of the country. Ancient rainforest, white beaches and yesterday I even saw koalas! I travelled here alone but I am visiting friends. My friend Bridget travelled with me in Queensland and came to the great barrier reef with me, now I’m staying at her place in Melbourne. In Sydney I stayed with my other friend Maggie who showed me around there. Cool cities both of them! This trip has been truly amazing and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to experience this! If you read through all my notes about carbon calculations you will get to my lovely travel photos at the end. They include pictures of a koala if you were not motivated to begin with 😉
Now to the less fun part. I got here from Europe the worst possible way: by flying. I actually looked at taking a freighter cruise but they are damn expensive and with 30 days at sea, I simply would not have made the trip.
The emissions from my flights are absolutely crazy. I chose to pay about 150€ more for my flights to get as few stop overs as possible and the straightest possible route. Stop overs make flights even worse, but it is impossible to get to Australia from Europe without one stop over. I am feeling a bit guilty when I am doing these calculations. I have now used three different calculators to get a picture of how much this trip really was in emissions. I am going to compensate my flights, at not one but three different sites, because I really think the idea of compensating for flights emissions is quite problematic. I think prices of CO2 are too low, so therefore I think it is right for me to compensate threefold. Even if CO2 compensation has its problems I do recommend it for anyone who travels by flight! I’m more ambitious than most people when it comes to reducing my carbon footprint and I understand if you cannot afford compensating three times, do it once and it will be better than most people!
Most sites I used to calculate, said that this amount of international travel emits approximately 4,6 tonnes of CO2, since I travelled about 32000 km. For comparison, ALL my other transport gets to only 2,6 tonnes of CO2 per year. That includes 8 flights within Europe, two long train journeys within Europe, 3 long bus journeys and occasional use of car. The flights within Europe account for 90% of that sum, I better start travelling Helsinki-London by train again. Driving a car to work daily would be about 1-3 tonnes of CO2. My flights here equal 9 years of my occasional driving a car but if you drive a lot in a big car, your car can emit almost 5 tonnes CO2 per year. The same as my Australia trip! The electricity, heating and stuff I buy to keep my flat in shape emits only 2,2 tonnes of CO2 in a year! I could stop using electricity at home completely, live in the forest and still not be able to compensate for this flight in my lifestyle. Being vegetarian and eating mostly vegan saves me 1 tonne of CO2 per year and my food footprint goes from 1,7 tonnes CO2 to 0,7 tonnes CO2. Being vegan could technically afford me an international holiday every 3 years or so, if I choose to go to for example Asia which is a bit closer than Australia. My consumption CO2 is quite low compared to the average western person. I save about 2 tonnes of CO2 per year with buying as little as possible, preferring secondhand, renting, borrowing and repairing. Recycling gets my CO2 footprint down by approximately 0,3 tonnes of CO2. 16 years of recycling can compensate for one holiday to Australia. Thank god I have been recycling all my life!
To sum up, this trip is not great for the environment and my carbon footprint, but I will try to compensate it both in my daily life and by buying carbon offsets. The average EU carbon footprint per year is 7,5 tonnes. On average over the past 5 years, I am slightly above that with approx 9 tonnes of CO2 per year because I travel too much but I am well below the Finnish average of 11 to 13 tonnes or the UK carbon footprint of 10 tonnes per person. The Aussies have an insane footprint of almost 20 tonnes of carbon per year!
I am also happy to notice through, that with all my lifestyle choices I actually end up earning my flights in CO2 savings. By “earning” I mean that I emit less carbon than the average Brit or Finn despite my travels. That feels good, because I love travelling and this holiday has made me so happy!
Site 1: climatecare.org
This site sells emission compensation very cheaply. It calculated that I have emitted 4.66 tonnes of CO2 for travelling back and forth from London to Cairns via Singapore, and from Melbourne to London via Colombo, Sri Lanka. This compensation cost me 43€ in total. This is nothing, if I compare that my flights were around 800 euro. And if I calculate what I have spent during my holiday, I have even less reason to come with any excuses about not affording to carbon offset.
Recent research shows that offsetting through our Gold Standard safe water projects will not only reduce CO2 emissions. For every tonne of CO2 offset, you will also deliver $117 of health impacts and $1 of employment. Clean cooking projects tell a similar story with $55 of health impacts, $93 of livelihood impacts and $3 of employment delivered for every tonne of CO2 offset.
Site 2: co2esto.com
A Finnish company that buys EU emission rights and sells them to individual. According to them, an average, roundtrip international flight between two continents emits 1,5 ton CO2. Since my flights to Australia consist of flying over two continents, from Europe to Asia to Australia, I simply doubled this sum. According to them my trip to Australia would have emitted only approximately 3 tonnes of CO2. Since this is just an approximation, it makes sense that the estimation is somewhat lower than for the other two calculators. This cost me in total 40€. Again, quite affordable. If you can afford to travel internationally, surely you can afford to offset.
Site 3: carbonfootprint.com
According to carbonfootprint.com my journey emitted 4,8 tonnes of CO2. This number is slightly higher than the first calculator, because they include something called radiative forcing. “Carbon emissions from planes at high altitude have an increased effect on global warming. Tick the box if you would like to multiply aviation emissions by DEFRA’s recommended Radiative Forcing factor of 1.891.”
Carbonfootprint.com gives me different options to offset my flights, ranging from UK tree planting for £64 (approx 75€) to a “global portfolio” for only £26 (approx. 30€). I chose to compensate by buying a “Certified Emissions Reduction” for £36, which is about 42€.
Your funding supports Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects that have generated Certified Emission Reductions (CERs). CDM was defined by the Kyoto Protocol to promote clean development in developing countries. This offsetting portfolio supports sustainable development through a range of projects such as Wind Energy, Small Hydro Power, Efficient Cookstoves and Biomass.
So, now I am about 120€ poorer but at least I feel less bad about my flights. Also, this is less than 10% of my total travel budget so really not that much. What do you guys think, can I claim my Australia holiday is carbon neutral now? Time for pictures!
- I used the three sites mentioned above and also a carbon calculator by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). The average emissions for consumption, driving a car and recycling are from SYKE.
- Statistics about European carbon footprints: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Greenhouse_gas_emission_statistics_-_carbon_footprints
- Statistics about European carbon footprints: https://www.carboncalculator.co.uk/averages.php
- About Finnish carbon footprints: http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/14913-finns-have-one-of-the-biggest-carbon-footprints-in-eu.html
- Australian carbon footprint: http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/verve/_resources/TCI_Australias_Emissions_Factsheet_Final-LR.pdf6. Carbon emissions per country: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/carbon-emissions-per-person-capita