CO2 Calculator

Calculate your Carbon Footprint - CLICK HERE  

Courtesy of Food and Trees for Africa - www. trees.co.za 

The Facts:

Climate change is now the most urgent environmental issue and as the world wakes up to the threats of this South African public benefit organization Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), who have been talking of the need to address this through conserving, planting and maintaining trees since they started in 1990, has launched The Carbon Protocol, a programme to make it easy and affordable to measure their carbon dioxide emissions and offset these.

The FTFA carbon calculator, the first South African calculator of its kind, uses the Global Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocols which aim to harmonize GHG accounting and reporting standards internationally to ensure that different trading platforms and other climate related initiatives adopt consistent approaches to GHG accounting. This protocol has recently been converted into a standard (SANS ISO 14064-1:2006 Part 1: specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals).

The principles in this standard have been used to develop a Carbon Calculator that is applicable to South Africa and provides a high level estimation of the carbon footprint. The purpose is to create awareness around lifestyle choices, events, venues, office buildings, business processes, industries and the contribution to climate change. Creating awareness based on a credible baseline is the first step in reducing your footprint. As we say, “If you do not know how large your footprint is, how can you evaluate your reduction”?

Reduce what you can and offset the rest!

Knowing your footprint is therefore the first step. What to do about it is next and although reducing the footprint is the next active step you can already start to offset your baseline. This awareness has resulted in companies and individuals who have used this Carbon Calculator, and worked with FTFA to plant trees,initiating emission reduction programmes. These include installing an auto switch off program forairconditioners and lights in office buildings, increasing paper recyclingin branch offices, further reducing energy consumption by changing to energy saving light bulbs and even rationalizing travel.

To address global warming requires lifestyle and business changes thatall of us can make. Here are some simple things you can do:

  • Turn off the lights when you don't need them and fit energy saving light bulbs

  • Open the windows and switch off the aircons

  • Switch off your computer and other appliances when not in use, at the plug point

  • Switch to solar power

  • Walk, cycle or use public transport where possible

  • Drive slower, it is safer and uses less fuel, thus less emissions

  • Buy locally produced itemsand organic food

  • Avoid packaging where possible

  • Requestyour bills electronically and pay on line

  • Reduce paper usage and recycle as much as possible

  • There are several ways to offset your carbon dioxide emissions. One of these is planting trees.

TheCarbon Standard provides a measurable way of planting trees that grow and absorb some carbon dioxide. Apart from absorbing carbon dioxide, planting of these trees also contributes to a host of environmental, economic and social benefits for these communities as you can see on this website.

Some of the draw backs of international schemes are already addressed by FTFA such as:

  • planting large volumes of non-indigenous species in any open space -- FTFA is planting either indigenous or fruit trees at schools, clinics, in backyards etc. This helps with food security where it is needed and the trees are mostly planted in already degraded and denuded urban environments therefore not placing strain on underground water sources.

  • Trees can die or be cut down by people for firewood.-- FTFA, through community training and education programmes that provide information on the value and benefits of trees. Research on projects in South Africa shows a survival rate of 60-98 % as a result of these FTFA programmes. For the purpose of the calculator the more conservative lower figure is used for the safety margin.

  • Double accounting of trees for various schemes. FTFA is an award winning organization keeping a database of trees planted and their specific location. The Carbon Standard involves an audit of two parts, one being the inventory and the other the planting of trees by an independent auditor. This will provide comfort to participants that the offsetting is credible.

You will be asked to input your annual consumption for travel – local, national and international air travel (in terms of duration as long medium and short flights have different emission factors), local and national car travel. These are international IPCC default factors.In order to have a practical and easy calculator the calculations are based on a medium sized petrol car. In accordance with the definitions and factors from the GHG Protocol Mobile Combustion Tool this car would emit 0.22 kg CO2 per km. In an average companysome employeeswoulddrive smaller and others larger cars. A medium sized car would closely approximate the overall picture.Thisemission factor cannot be applied to off road agricultural or delivery vehicles.Please follow the principles of the GHG reporting protocol (now also available as SANS 14064-1:2006 Specification with guidance at the organizational level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals)to guide you should you/your company needa comprehensive calculation.Should a detailed inventory be needed company specific petrol and diesel consumptions and emissions will be used. For the high level estimation only distances are required and international accepted emission factors are used.

Input your electricity usage. In South Africa the electricity for the national grid is mainly provided by Eskom's 2009 report as 1.03 CO2Emission factor. This is an audited figure that is updated annually.

Then input your paper usage from monthly or annual purchase. In South Africa paper production is done via dedicated forests owned and managed by the paper and pulp manufacturers. Paper manufacturers plant on average 3 trees for every tree cut down. The trees vs. paper calculation is added for interest and is not added to the total footprint or offset. This is in accordance with international reporting principles.

Using these figures the calculator will estimate your carbon footprint for the year, as well as the number of trees it will take to sink the carbon dioxide for these activities

FTFA will plant the necessary number of trees with your donation to offset your carbon dioxide emissions through its National Tree Distribution and Trees for Homes programmes. As trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide (one of the most important green house gases) from the atmosphere and convert it into oxygen through photosynthesis. The process of trapping carbon dioxide in forests, soils, geological formations and other carbon dioxide “sinks” is called carbon dioxide sequestration. FTFA has already planted over 2,5 million trees in South Africa. It is estimated that just 60% of these planted will have already sunk over 200 000 tons of carbon dioxide.

In addition to sinking greenhouse gases that cause climate change, these new urban forests provide other benefits to the communities and the environment as described elsewhere on this site. They also help to protect water quality, restore wildlife habitats and enhance public recreation areas.

Various academic studies indicated that an average indigenous tree planted in an average urban environment in South Africa absorbs carbon dioxide exponentially as it grow and over a period of about 15 years on average 500kg of carbon dioxide is stored per tree. Although these trees will not be cut down after the fifteen year period it was decided, in order to remain conservative, to use these figures for the high level estimate. For site specific carbon dioxide sequestration studies FTFA can refer applicants.

FTFA is working with expert carbon dioxide technical advisors to assist companies wishing to do more in depth assessments and audits that factor in various other issues such as recycling, vegetation already on their properties, sustainable energy inputs etc.