how to reduce your co2e in your life.  


We all need to have to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050.   We need to drop our CO2 consumption by 60% by 2050.  

This is going to require a  re-orientation of human values and consumption. 

  • 3 tonne limit per year = this is the CO2e allowance per person per year.

  • 3 metric tonnes as apposed to the imperial ton.

  • 1 metric tonne = 1000kg (1,000,000 grams) so the maths is very easy..

  • 10 tonnes of CO2 is currently the UK average...

I found a lot of different conflicting lists that were difficult to compare in context.  So I started with this science paper that a lot of papers based CO2e reduction articles on.   

Also it came with a easy to digest info-graphic.  

CO2e impact.jpg

What are the worse offenders and what areas can we reduce CO2e? 

Note: it is easy to find articles with these in a different order, but it is clear that there are always these regulars in the top 10.   Most of the above is linked to the capitalism lifestyles and western societies needless consumption.   The 1% SUPER RICH need to step up and lead by example instead of trying to escape and terraform Mars, maybe they should look at reducing their foot prints...  We can all shame the politicians and rich into doing the right thing for our grand children and planet earth.

So how can we reduce CO2e in our day to day. 

Lets break down the BIG 6 for CO2E reduction in numbers:

  1. Having 1 less child - Consume less = refer below

  2. Live Car-Free - ride a Bicycle = 1.0 - 5.3 Tonnes CO2e saving per year

  3. Less Flying - use a Phone = 0.7 - 2.8 Tonnes CO2e saving per year

  4. Green energy - No Coal = 1.0 - 2.5 Tonnes CO2e saving per year

  5. Buy more efficient car - sell the Range Rover = 1.2 Tonnes CO2e saving per year

  6. Eat A Plant-Based Diet - Flexitarians = 0.3 - 1.6 Tonnes CO2e saving per year

TOTAL POTENTIAL SAVING = 4.2 - 13.4 Tonnes CO2e


1. Having 1 less child:

It has been published that each child contributes an average of 58 tonnes of CO2 per year.   This is basically blaming the next generation for the past and current situation of CO2e.  This is a drastic way to reduce CO2e, however this is a reflection of human over population and lifestyle.  If we want to protect the environment, we can teach the next generation how to improve matters.  CO2e reduction should come from systems-level reforms, infrastructural development, and strong checks on industry.   This will involve lobbying local councils and government to make policy changes.

We need to reproduce to survive as a species and each family can have 2.2 children to keep the population level.   So lead by example and educate the whole family on why this issue is important. A family can of course live ethically and educate the next generation on how to protect the planet.   

This should be titled "Living with Less" to inspire less consumerism and more self reflection.  Look at your own carbon foot print and help others to reduce.   Living with less is the approach that we should all be adopting, continually reviewing and looking for better ways to reduce to a 3T limit.  

Pets should be included in this "living with less" list.   Dogs for example = Jack Russell = 0.6 tonnes of CO2 per year  Labrador = 1.6 tonnes St. Bernard = 2.3 tonnes.  This is based on a mostly meat diet - refer below.  Living with a Labrador would reduce your 3 T CO2e allowance to 1.4 T per year.

Rather than buying something new, purchase 2nd hand. The energy needed to make a new computer or phone is many times the amount used to power it over its lifetime.   Apple says 80% of the carbon footprint of a new laptop comes from manufacturing and distribution.  Changing our lifestyles and educating others to live with less can potentially save 50T per year of CO2e.

2. Living Car-Free:

Technology solutions are being proposed to resolve transport issues... Silicon valley is pursuing Autonomously driven car not for us but to control the next area for new money.  

IF autonomous or self-drive AI cars happen, then this will question car ownership. 

AI will turn every car into a taxi or  train service.  You could sleep the whole journey and wake up at a destination, after being driven there. 

However there are "driver-less" solutions that already exist.

  • Driver-less lorry = Train

  • Driver-less car = Taxi or carpooling

Yes there is a driver driving the train, but many train systems are remotely operated.  

Cars are the transport problem and Electric cars are not the solution only a car based transport solution..

The roads and infrastructure are at capacity and will still be an issue.

Owning a Car :

Even electric cars will put you over the 3 T CO2e Limit.   If I break it down you will see why.  If you commit to this then the CO2e from item 5 (Buy more efficient car) is also included.

This is the easiest way to get the savings needed to reduce CO2 emissions.  Our family has given up our car and joined a car club for the occasions where trains are not practical.  While going car-free is not practical for everyone, a majority of distances traveled by car are less than 5 miles!!!  This is a 20-30 minute cycle ride.  We need to get smarter using public transport and cycling.

Making a car:

The carbon footprint of making a car is immensely complex. Ores have to be dug out of the ground and the metals extracted.

It is roughly 720kg CO2e per £1000 spent.

Making a petrol car:

  • 6 tonnes CO2e: Citroen C1. = @£8,300

  • 17 tonnes CO2e: Ford Mondeo = @ 20,700

  • 35 tonnes CO2e: Range Rover Sport = @£62,790

Even with a 10year life it would still consume all of your 3T allowance.

Making an electric car:

It would take 26T CO2e (Car 7-10T + Battery = 9T) which has a footprint of 2.5T per year if it lasts 10years.   Electric cars produce more CO2e to manufacture than a petrol car because of the battery.  This is offset by not burning any CO2 as fuel.  Batteries also require mining of nickel, lithium, copper, cobalt, graphite, and aluminum, and sometimes manganese.  Manufacturing a battery emits an average of 150 kg of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of battery capacity. 9T for a 60kWh battery.

Fuel CO2 Emissions : 

A typical family petrol car, with emissions of 153g/km which saves 1.2T co2e per year (CO2 per 8000mile year)

Electricity CO2 emissions:

The UK currently produces 0.507kgCO2 per kWh of electricity.  Buying an electric car is not really a solution until the electricity comes from totally renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and nuclear power.  An electric car would produce the following CO2 per 8000mile year.  

  • 0.8T per year if the electricity mix (20% renewable and 80% traditional).

  • 0.07T per year if totally renewable.

  • Nissan Leaf (30 kWh battery) 172 km 16,89 kWh/100 km = 0.68T p/y

  • Tesla Model S 60D 351 km 20,73 kWh/100 km = 0.8T p/y

co2 emission comparisons:

There are alternatives to the car, with considerable CO2e savings.  We all need to start walking for those short trips that we do under 2 miles.

  • CYCLING = 18.4 co2_gpkm

  • WALKING = 24 co2_gpkm

  • Sea freight per Tonne = 10 - 40 co2_gpkm

  • Bus = 25 - 66co2_gpkm

  • Train = 30 - 120 co2_gpkm

  • Airship (Zeppelin, Cargolifter ) = 55 co2_gpkm

  • Black cab = 44 - 225 co2_gpkm

  • Modern Truck per Tonne = 60 to 150 co2_gpkm

  • Electric Car = 22 - 110 co2_gpkm

  • Car Petrol = 30.6 - 153 co2_gpkm

  • Domestic Flights 100% full = 220 co2_gpkm

  • SUV Diesel = 55 - 274 co2_gpkm

  • Air freight B747 per Tonne = 500 co2_gpkm

Walking and Cycling emissions are from agricultural activities (including fertiliser input);   food processing and international (air and surface) transport. 


The Carbon foot print to make a carbon bicycle is 26.3 kg of CO2.  This is equivalent to driving a car 213 km or 133 miles.  Rather than buying a new electric vehicle, it may be better to keep your old car on the road by maintaining it properly and using it sparingly.   Take small steps to start commuting by bicycle once a week, and then twice.  

Again his is all relating back to capitalism, marketing and consumerism in general.   As I mentioned before, cars are the transport problem and technology is not going to solve everything.  The roads and infrastructure are at capacity and will still be an issue.  

At the millennium Dome Ford Motor company took sponsorship of the Journey space..  They even had this statement on the wall...

“Average speed of vehicles through London, 1889: 11 MPH. Average speed of vehicles through London, 1999: 11 MPH.”

THE MULTINATIONAL companies sponsoring zones cannot resist putting themselves at the centre of the vision of the future. 

At the end of the "journey" we were told that "Ford is eager to embrace and shape a better future for us all".    Almost 20 years on and the average speed is still 11 mph.

3. Skip That Flight:

We all need to take the slow route, holiday closer to home, make the journey the holiday.   The trans-siberian railway, old silk road routes and the new chinese belt and silk routes are all alternatives to flying around the world.  Airline flights remain one of the more dogged emissions sources.  Skipping one flight can save up to 2.8 metric tons of emissions per year.  PLANE Emissions data based on the Boeing 737 jet aircraft :

  • Domestic UK flight = 100% occupancy 220 co2_gpkm

  • Domestic UK flight = 50% occupancy 440 co2_gpkm

  • International Long haul UK flight = 100% occupancy 184 co2_gpkm

  • International Long haul flight = 50% occupancy 338 co2_gpkm

Economy-class New York to Los Angeles round trip produces about 715 kg (1574 lb) of CO2 (but is equivalent to 1,917 kg (4,230 lb) of CO2 when the high altitude "climatic forcing" effect is taken into account.  

The following table shows the amount of CO2 (in grams) emitted per metric ton of freight and per km of transportation:

  • Air plane (air cargo), average Cargo B747 = 500 g

  • Modern lorry or truck = 60 to 150 g

  • Modern train = 30 to 100 g

  • Modern ship (sea freight) = 10 to 40 g

  • Airship (Zeppelin, Cargolifter ) as planned = 55 g

4. Green energy:

The UK currently produces 0.507kgCO2 per kWh of electricity.   This has a CO2e impact until the electricity comes from totally renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and nuclear power.   Other ways to reduce the CO2e footprint :

  • Replace lighting with LEDs.

  • Home appliances: Use the tumble dryer less. Your energy bill may surprise you.

  • Invest in your own sources of renewable energy: Putting solar panels on the roof still usually makes financial sense, even after most countries have ceased to subsidise installation.

  • Buy gas and electricity from retailers who sell renewable power: Support companies that are switching to a low-carbon future.

  • Devest from OIL: Vocal support for those backing out of oil, gas and coal helps keep up the pressure. Do not support Fracking in your area.

  • Politics: Politicians tend to do what their electorates want.

  • Buy seasonal and sensible goods and services: Bananas, for example, are fine because they are shipped by sea. But organic asparagus flown in from Peru is much more of a problem.

6. Eat A Plant-Based Diet:

Abstaining from meat can save up to 1.6 metric tones of emissions per year.   This will be difficult to implement in a society that associates meat with wealth, status and luxury.

The following tables indicates the CO2 production in kg CO2 equivalents per kg of meat depending on the animal:

1 kg of meat from produces kg CO2e:

  • beef 34.6kg

  • lamb 17.4kg

  • pork 6.35kg

  • chicken 4.57kg

Source: Environmental Impacts on Food Production and Consumption. 

1kg beef per week @ 1.7T per year (2-3 family meals).  2kg Chicken per week @ 0.4T per year (2 family meals).    This highlights that a meat diet would easily produce over 2T per year.   This is not only people, an average-sized dog consumes about 180kg of meat in a year and about 210 pounds of cereal.  A dog even if only eating chicken based meat, would consume enough to produce 0.8T of CO2e

It also goes further to the whole dairy industry.  Butter, Cheese and Cream all have high CO2 footprints, compared to other foods.

  • Butter = 23.8kg

  • Hard cheese = 8.5kg

  • Cream = 7.6kg

  • Eggs = 1.95kg

  • Farmer cheese = 1.95kg

  • Margarine = 1.35kg

  • Yogurt = 1.25kg

  • Milk = 0.95kg

  • Apples 0.55kg

  • Strawberries 0.3kg

  • Brown bread = 0.75kg

  • White bread = 0.65kg


We cannot predict the future – however we can do something about stopping the climb of CO2e.  However we ALL need to change the way that we consume goods.   We all need to use products that have less impact and use less resources.