Personal Carbon Footprint Calculation and Efforts to Reduce Impact on Climate Change
Carbon Footprint Calculation
The baseline emission for personal carbon footprint is calculated based on the plan to reside in a third world country. Indonesia is selected as an example of the third world country that ratified the Kyoto protocol and signed on July 13 1998 , so there is a strong relevance between this exercise and the country’s policy on emission reduction.
Indonesia is a tropical country with climate conditions that do not require heating facilities, so emission form such facility will be insignificant. The baseline emission of personal carbon footprint calculated using the carbon footprint calculator is described in Appendix 1. Main sources of emissions are identified as house; flights; car; bus & rail; and secondary emissions .
House emission comes from the use of electricity from state-owned electric company, and the use of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking and water heating. These are the common sources of energy in modern households in this country. Flights are calculated as the result from annual holiday travel from Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) to Bali (a favorite holiday destination). Car usage creates emission from the combustion of petroleum from commuting to work on daily basis, as well as from recreational travel within the city. Car usage in one year is approximately 25,000 km, and the emission level correlates with this distance. Public transportation such as bus and rail is not well developed in this country. Therefore, due to the low comfort level related to public transportation, the use of such mode of transportation is low. Emission level also comes from secondary means related to behavior such as eating, shopping, recreational, and banking habits.
The result of personal carbon footprint calculation based on existing activities is 11.20 metric tons per year. This value is significantly higher than the Indonesian national average of 1.69 metric tons per year and the worldwide target of 2 metric tons per year. The biggest contribution of emission comes from the use of car to commute and travel on daily basis. This is consistent with the finding that identifies fossil fuel combustion as the large contributor to the greenhouse gas emission worldwide . The second biggest contribution of emission comes from secondary emission which is derived from various behaviors.
Emission Reduction Target and Action Plans
Emission Reduction Target
Changing behavior can help reduce emission from household use, car emission, and secondary emission . Therefore, some behavior changes are applied to the new calculation of personal carbon footprint. The target is set to reduce emission by at least 30% of the baseline as stated in Kyoto Protocol.
Emission Reduction Strategies
Car usage and secondary emissions are identified as the biggest sources of carbon footprint, and should be strategically addressed in order to reduce emission. The total calculated carbon footprint baseline is equal to the average of the industrial nation. This baseline is significantly higher than the country average, as the emission is calculated based on comfort level higher than that experienced by most of the residents of Indonesia. Car emission can be reduced by various strategies such as reducing car usage (lowering the mileage); changing car type to lower engine capacity; changing car type to a fuel-efficient car (Low Cost Green Car); using public transportations; or carpooling to commute to work.
The reduction strategies and comparison of the baseline and the revised calculations based on reduction strategies are shown in Table 1.
Emission Reduction Target
Personal carbon footprints based on reduction strategies are described in Appendix 2. The result shows that the emission level is still higher than the national average in Indonesia. However, the strategies implemented manage to reduce emission by 56.7% from the baseline. This reduction is bigger than the 30% reduction from baseline set in the Kyoto Protocol.
The attempt to reduce emission is proven to be difficult, as it requires a number of modifications from the current lifestyle. For instance, the comfort of using private car to travel is reduced significantly by opting to use smaller vehicle and to use public transportation. This is probably the most difficult adaptation that must be made. Changes in eating and shopping behavior are not that difficult to implement, as it does not influence the overall comfort.
Lowering emission level to match the country average seems impossible to do, as it will require a totally different lifestyle and comfort. It is possible that most of Indonesians living in big cities and urban areas in the country will also face difficulties in lowering the emission level to match the country average. Same difficulties will be faced in reducing emission level to a global target of 2 metric tons per year. The big difference between the baseline personal carbon footprint with the national Indonesian average and the global target is not surprising, as the baseline is based on the living standard of industrial nation rather than on the living standard of a third world country such as Indonesia.
The use of carbon calculator certainly increases the awareness by increasing the knowledge of impacts of certain lifestyle on climate change. The carbon calculator is based on various secondary data and it provides simulated values of carbon emissions. Simulated carbon emission values may not reflect the actual carbon emissions resulting from various activities and lifestyles. Compromise between lifestyle and reduction of impacts on climate change can be achieved through offset programs that ensure forest integrity for carbon absorption . There have been various international discussions that address climate change impact and carbon offsetting programs.
Canadell, J. G., & Raupach, M. R. (2008, June 13). Managing Forest for Climate Change Adaptatioin. Science Vol 320, pp. 1456-1457.
Carbon Footprint. (2014, February 22). Carbon Footprint Calculator. Retrieved from Carbon Footprint: http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
Chow, J. C., & Watson, J. G. (2002). Review of PM2.5 and PM10 Apportionment for Fossil Fuel Combustion and Other Sources by the Chemical Mass Balance Receptor Model. Energy & Fuels volume 16, 222-260.
Semenza, J. C., Hall, D. E., Wilson, D. J., Bontempo, B. D., Sailor, D. J., & George, L. A. (2008). Public Perception of Climate Change Voluntary Mitigation and Barriers to Behavior Change. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35(5), 479-487.
UNFCC. (2014, February 24). Status of the Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Retrieved from United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change: https://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/status_of_ratification/items/2613.php