The Resurgence Carbon Dioxide Calculator
The Resurgence Calculator:
- came first in an independent survey of carbon calculators on-line
- is widely recognised as the most user-friendly and accurate on-line carbon calculator
- is often the single calculator referred to in articles on carbon footprinting
You can use the full calculator below to:
- Easily and accurately calculate your carbon footprint
- See which areas of your lifestyle allow the easiest CO2 savings
- Monitor your CO2 emissions from year to year
- Enjoy the feel good factor of knowing how much CO2 you have saved
This is the accurate calculator which requires your domestic energy bills and MOT certificate. If you do not have access to these, select the quick calculator.
What we are going to do is use your domestic energy bills, car mileage, train, ship and air travel and some lifestyle questions to calculate your carbon footprint. As you enter this information into the calculator it will show the CO2 emissions for each area in kg and tonnes (1 tonne = 1,000kg). The totals for all areas are listed at the end giving your carbon footprint.
When calculating your personal carbon dioxide emissions do not include journeys or any other type of CO2 emissions related to your work. Every product and service ends up with a private user, so all work related emissions are divided amongst customers and end up in somebody's personal carbon dioxide calculation. However your CO2 emissions to get to the place of work are included. (Note 1)
Before you start, collect together all your domestic energy bills for one year, preferably the last calendar year. These include electricity, gas, oil and coal, and your latest and previous MOT certificates.
N.B. This calculator uses the abbreviated phrase ‘carbon’ for ‘carbon dioxide’ in places, but all figures in the calculator refer to carbon dioxide (not carbon). (Note 2)
For readers with a deeper interest, methodology notes referred to by numbers throughout the calculator can be found at the bottom.
To use the calculator on-screen
Simply fill in the forms with your figures. The figures will automatically update as you proceed, including the the grand total table at the end of this page.
Online Carbon Calculator
Here you have it. Your personal annual CO2 emissions. Approximately. To put this in context, national average emissions are 10 tonnes per person per year. In 2004 the UK government pledged to cut emissions by 20% by 2012 to around 8 tonnes per capita. They have now pledged 80% reductions by 2050 to around 2 tonnes per capita, which is the sustainable CO2 quota per global capita.
If you wish to reduce your CO2 emissions a good target is 4% per year. This is a pleasantly easy target, is in line with UK Government National Indicator Targets, and if everyone did it, would reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2030.
If you would like tips on the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint, you can download my short booklet The Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles. It shows how low carbon choices are easy and fun and enhance your quality of life.
I hope you enjoyed the calculator.
With best wishes,
North Devon, October 2009
- The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- The National Energy Foundation
- The National Office of Statistics
Mukti Mitchell is a carpenter, sailor, author and director of CosyHome Company, which provides insulation solutions for period properties in the South West of England. He designed the Explorer zero-emission microyacht and sailed around Britain in 2007 to promote low carbon lifestyles.
Note 0. Principle Data Sources
The principal source of data for this calculator is the "Guidelines to DEFRA’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Conversion Factors for Company Reporting - Annexes" .
Another useful source of GHG conversion factors is the "Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE)" from The University of Bath.
Further figures and methodology notes on the different sections of the Resurgence Carbon Calculator follow below.
Note 1. Personal and Work Emissions
It is not necessary to include work emissions in your personal carbon emissions calculation. This is because every product and service has an end user. For example if you work for an iron smelting company and have to fly abroad regularly for board meetings, your flight emissions will be included in the company’s total CO2 emissions. This total will be divided by the number of tonnes of iron produced by the company per year resulting in an associated "CO2 ticket" per tonne of iron. This ticket will be passed to the purchasers of the iron, for example a car manufacturer. The car manufacturer will add this CO2 ticket to the company’s total CO2 emission and divide this by the number of cars manufactured. The final resulting CO2 ticket for the cars sold will be passed to the customer to be included in their personal annual CO2 calculations. All government related activities are covered by the 1 tonne base industry share per person per year which appears in the last section of the calculator.
2. Carbon and Carbon Dioxide
When one carbon atom combines with two oxygen atoms this becomes carbon dioxide. 1kg of carbon combines with 2.667kg of oxygen to produce 3.667kg of carbon dioxide.
3. Green Tariffs
100% green tariffs source all electricity from renewables such as wind, solar and wave power. Because it takes some fossil fuels to build the renewable generators, this is given a CO2 output of 5% of non-renewable sources.
Semi-green tariffs like Ecotricity’s New Energy tariff source around 30% from renewables and the rest from normal sources (2008). Normal Tariffs source 1% from renewables, which is taken into account in the conversion factor.
In November 08:
Based on £20/month: EDF 18p/kwh, British Gas 8p, E.on 20p, average 14p (includes standing charges).
Based on £40/month: EDF 15p, BG 10p, Good Energy 18p, Av 14p.
Based on £80/month: EDF 14p, BG 10p, GE 18p, Av 14p
In November 2008:
Postcode EX39: Npower 3.6p/kWh, E.on 5.7p, Av 4.7p
Postcode NW5: Ebico 3.8p, Npower 6.2p, Av 5p
Natural Gas CO2 emissions: 0.206kg/kWh (Defra 2008)
1 Therm = 96.7cuft natural gas
1m3 = 35.3 cu ft :: 1 therm = 2.74cu m
(:: means therefore)
CO2 to energy ratio for coal is 0.313kg CO2 per kWh.
Recent studies show that old growth forests continue to absorb CO2 at rates nearly as fast as new growth forests for hundreds of years. Cutting forests and disturbing soils causes and involves high CO2 release and only a small proportion of wood ends up in permanent use not returning CO2 to the atmosphere. In the light of these studies the Resurgence Carbon Calculator takes the view that forest management is not carbon neutral, and and we need to leave old forests uncut to allow them to sequester CO2.
"Old-growth forests as global carbon sinks". Nature 455: 213-215. Nov 2008. "Forests that are 200 years old or older continue to sequester an estimated 8.8 tonnes CO2 per hectare per year." - Recent study of real world data from 519 forests by Luyssaert, S., Schulze, E.-D., Borner, A., Knohl, A., Hessenmoller, D., Law, B.E., Ciais, P. and Grace, J. 2008.
"Energy forests with Salix as a Carbon Dioxide sink" By Veli Pohjonen. This recent study of new willow forests in Finland shows sequestering of 11.6 Tonnes CO2 per year.
Wood technical data from the Biomass Energy Foundation (BEF) Energy 19.75MJ/kg. 1kWh = 0.2778 MJ. :: Wood = 5.49kWh/kg Energy 13.9GJ/M3 = 13.9MJ/l = 3.86kWh/l :: Wood pellets have density of 0.703kg/l CO2 Ems 90kg/GJ = 0.09kg/MJ = 0.324kg CO2 per kWh (Roughly 50 per cent of dry woody biomass is in elementary carbon) (:: means therefore)
8. Electric Car Emissions
Tesla 110Whrs per km = 176Whrs per mile = 0.08kg CO2 per mile. Wrightspeed equivalent to 170mpg = 0.06kg CO2 per mile. Typical Californian EV does 140 mile on one charge of 25kWh = 2/3 Gal petrol equivalent = 0.18kWh per mile = 0.08kg CO2 per mile. Converted electric Geo Prism 12 kWh for 50 miles = 0.24kWh per mile = 0.10kg CO2 per mile
In this calculator biofuels are given a "half charge" of CO2 compared to their fossil fuel counterparts. This is because biofuels emit as much CO2 as their fossil fuel counterparts but as new plants are growing in their place some of this CO2 is re-absorbed. However bio-fuels occupy agricultural land that is needed for food. And rainforests have been destroyed to grow bio-fuels, reducing carbon sequestration. Therefore it appears that bio-fuels are only sustainable if they make up a small part of the overall energy mix. Hence this calculator gives them a "half charge" for their CO2 emissions.
10. Car Manufacturing Emissions
According to research by Ford (1995) manufacturing a car emits approximately the same CO2 as 1.4 years of average use for that type of car.
The Commission for Integrated Transport gives an average lifespan of 14 years for UK cars, with an average annual mileage of 10,000 miles.
Manufacturing CO2 for motorcycles is taken by weight proportional to cars. Average car weightt = 1400kg, average motorcycle weight = 200kg. Therefore average motorcycle weight = 15% of average car weight.
12. Air Travel
RFI stands for Radiative Forcing Index. This is a factor for the increased global warming effect of green house gases emitted at high altitude.
Domestic Flights spend less time at high altitude and therefore the Resurgence Carbon Calculator uses an RFI of 2.0. For Short and Long Haul Flights the RCC uses and RFI of 3.0.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives an RFI for air travel as 2.7 in 1992 and ranging from 2.2 to 3.4 for the year 2050 depending on various different scenarios. As the science of Radiative Forcing is new and uncertain and the IPCC has stated that it could be as high as 15 the Resurgence Carbon Calculator uses an RFI of 3 for high altitude flights.
This easy reference guide for food related CO2 emissions by diet and shopping habits is based on a study from Readers Digest Magazine.
14. Income Related Share
The National Energy Foundation states that “around of half UK CO2 emissions come from industry and commerce supporting our everyday lifestyle” www.natenergy.org.uk/co2mment.htm
This means producing our food, clothes, consumables, and maintaining our national infrastructure. National average annual CO2 emissions per capita are 10 tonnes, so our average “industry and commerce emissions share” is 5 tonnes each.
Part of industry and commerce provides infrastructure and resources that benefit everyone, and part of it provides the goods of “consumerism”. We may all take a share of the CO2 produced by the former, and the latter can be shared out according to consumption, which is largely linked to income. Public services and essential industries including health, education, defence, agriculture and construction produce 23% of industry and commerce CO2 emissions. “Domestic consumption” including cars, recreation, electrical goods, clothing, and consumables account for 40% of industry and commerce emissions. “Trade” including wholesale, garages, showrooms and computer activities accounts for 7%. And heavy industry, including mining and the material production, accounts for 30%.
To estimate our personal share of industrial emissions we begin with a base of 1 tonne per person towards the public and common amenities that nearly everyone benefits from. Food and car manufacturing emissions are accounted for in previous sections of the calculator and have an average output of a further 1.5 tonnes per person per year. This leaves 2.5 tonnes from the industry share to be accounted for by income-related calculations. The UK average wage is £25,000 per year, and the income per capita is also around £25,000 per year. This results in an income-related share of 1 tonne per £10,000 of income.