A report in the Globe and Mail from Nov 2018 states, “On average, each Canadian produces 22 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year – which is the highest among all G20 members and nearly three times the G20 average of eight tonnes per person.
Canadians are also the highest per-capita users of energy, with emissions from both the transportation sector and buildings four times the G20 average.
Motor fuel: every litre of gasoline burned results in 2.4 kilograms of emissions. But that figure doesn’t include emissions from drilling, extracting, transporting and refining that gasoline, and then trucking it to the service station where you buy it. Factor those in, and it’s more like 3 KG/litre. If you consume 40 litres per week, that equals over six tonnes of emissions per year. Many Canadians consume a lot more than 40 litres a week.
Heating oil: every litre of furnace oil burned results in 2.7 KG of carbon dioxide, and a similar 25% premium can be factored in for refining and other upstream emissions. So, 600 litres in your tank will mean two tonnes of emissions in the air.
Natural gas: the least dirty fossil fuel but a fossil fuel nonetheless, natural gas results in 49 KG of CO2 per gigajoule consumed; 25% added for drilling, transportation and leaked methane brings that to about 60 KG. So an annual consumption of 60 gigajoules represents about four tonnes of emissions.
Electricity: 550 grams of carbon dioxide are produced for every kilowatt hour of electricity we use. So if your average monthly bill is for 2000 kilowatt hours, that represents 12 tonnes of emissions per year.
Air travel: according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a round trip from New Brunswick to Toronto produces a quarter-tonne of emissions. Airplane emissions are a big part of the footprint of frequent flyers.
Food: here things get more complicated, because the carbon footprint of our diet depends on many factors. However, people who eat a lot of meat, buy a lot of imported food (especially perishable produce from far away) and lose a lot to spoilage and waste can be assured of a huge dietary carbon footprint.
Other: Clothing, electronics, furniture, appliances, household goods, packaging, trash disposal, water and sewage – all consume energy and contribute emissions. But it’s really, really hard to accurately calculate their detailed carbon footprint. The one sure thing is that less is always better.
Parts of a Carbon Footprint
There are many carbon footprint calculators on the internet. They can be used as useful and informative guidelines. Different calculators may generate very different carbon footprints, because they have been developed for other countries or climates, are based on incorrect assumptions or are too simplistic. However, 3 factors always have a big impact:
1) Travel: what you drive, how much you drive and how much you fly.