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Village Green Corner -  Articles for you to use in your church magazine.

For new articles and articles added since March 2012 see new website:-

April Village Green Corner 2008


Do the maths! - Travel

By Ruth Jarman

Are you a little tired of being told how to live your life? You want to live in a way that isn't harming Creation or your children's future, but you want to do it your way? Over the next five months we are going to calculate our personal contribution to climate change. At the end of the series we will be able to compare our carbon footprint to the average UK , US and Indian citizen as well as with where we need to get to if we are to live on a safe and equitable planet. We will be able to see for ourselves what areas of our lives most over-step our "carbon allowance" in this one, wonderful, but limited planet that is our home.

This carbon calculator is from Quaker Green Action ( I like it because you may need a calculator but you will not need to find your utility bills!

We will calculate emissions in kg of CO2 -equivalent gases. Some activities emit gases (e.g. nitrous oxide, methane) which have a much higher impact per kg than CO2.

Over the next few months we will look at 1) transport, 2) energy in the home, 3) food, 4) materials and waste, and 5) everything else. This month we will look at transport.



Accounts for energy use, non-CO2 exhaust emissions, emissions in car manufacture

•  If you are a regular car driver please start with the following annual score:-

For typical drivers (8,500 miles/year in a petrol car with average fuel consumption of 8.5 litres/100km) ............. 3500kg

For high mileage drivers (15,000 miles) .................... . 6200kg

For very low mileage drivers (2,000 miles/year) .... 830kg

If most of your trips are below 3 miles add 25% (extra fuel for cold starts).

If you drive a 4x4 or large people mover add 50% (100% for biggest engines) to your figure so far but for a small car (e.g. Clio or new Mini), subtract a third .

Divide by the number of people in the car (but don't include those just coming along for the ride) to get your car score for the year:


•  If you use public transport:

A weekly 150 miles return trip by rail or bus, or a daily return commute of 30 miles adds up to an annual .... 700kg

•  For each hour you spend flying, short or long haul, in the last year, add ........... 350kg

Your transport score (a+b+c) in kg CO2-equivalent

Just a thought if you want to be really honest with yourself: if you walk 2 miles/day or cycle 5 miles you need to eat more, adding about 8% to your food score (that we will look at in June - I will remind you then!) This also applies if you get ½ hr a day exercise some other way. Or simply if you eat a lot!

The calculation is not precise and may not fit your lifestyle perfectly, so please do be creative and make guesses - but be honest with yourself!


Our planet has a finite carbon-absorption capacity. To share emissions fairly and keep the earth abundant and beautiful we each need to emit less than about 1.5 tonnes of CO2 -equivalent gases. How do your transport-only emissions compare with this number?

If you feel challenged, take a look at the calculation again and see if there is one thing you can do this month to cut back significantly on your transport emissions while making your life happier and healthier at the same time!

ACTION: Use this in your church magazine



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