The car, the steak, the accommodation. The everyday choices may seem marginal but are important for how a person’s climate impact looks.
The climatic impact of a normal everyday life begins as soon as we step into the shower in the morning. Although we do away with up to 140 liters of water in ten minutes of showering, it is not the water use itself that is the problem.
The climate impact of a shower varies greatly depending on how the hot water is heated.
To heat water to a ten-minute shower, you consume about as much electricity as when watching TV for 50 hours.
The shower affects more if your hot water is heated with fossil fuels, ie oil.
The mix in some countries’ electricity grid is not particularly carbon dioxide-intensive since large parts consist of nuclear, hydro and wind power, but in other countries, the electricity is produced from coal and other less environmentally friendly ways. This means that countries with clean energy has a lower climate impact than in countries that use, for example, many coal-fired power plants.
For those who choose eco-labeled electricity, the carbon dioxide emissions you personally give rise to are even lower. But even when it comes to eco-labeled electricity, we should be restrictive with our use.
– We have a fairly limited amount of renewable electricity, after all, and if you don’t use too much of it, more can instead be used as a substitute for fossil fuels elsewhere.
After food and travel, which account for about two-thirds of greenhouse gas emission, the heating of our homes and how much energy we consume are the most important issues in everyday climate impact.
Anyone who uses oil to heat his home for any reason has a fairly large footprint due to his heat production.
Most people today have opted out of oil burning and electricity when heating the home, in favor of district heating or heat pumps. As a result, emissions from the heating of homes and premises have been able to reduce by more than 80 percent since 1990.
However, a heat pump needs electricity to be able to do its job and the method has faced climate criticism because of it. At the same time, studies have shown that heating in a boiler with biofuels, such as wood and pellets, is relatively climate-smart. But the dangerous substances that have to be created must be dealt with in controlled forms.
District heating is a good choice in this context. But for district heating based on bioenergy, the same applies to the eco-labeled electricity: Remember to save. In the future, bioenergy risks becoming a scarce resource. In the long term, obtaining a lot of bioenergy risks leading to deforestation.
Attempts at more climate-friendly heating of multi-family homes, built to be climate-smart, have shown that residents can significantly reduce their emissions. But not everyone living in the apartment has the opportunity to influence how the home is heated. Then you can at least try to choose ecolabelled electricity for its other consumption.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased rapidly last year to a level that the world has not seen in three million years, a UN report published in late October showed. Although emissions from human activity have slowed down in recent years, our transport is still one of the culprits behind the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Transport accounts for a high proportion of emissions. Domestic transport accounts for a large portion. Emissions from domestic transport decreased for several years, but have remained steady for the past three years. The reason is believed to be that the reduction in emissions from, among other things, passenger cars have stopped.
The majority of commuting still takes place by car in many countries.
By taking public transport to the job, it is possible to reduce considerably in the climate impact. The magnitude of the decrease depends mainly on what, for example, the bus is powered by – diesel, natural gas, biogas or ethanol. This makes it difficult to make an average calculation.
An environmental car is somewhere between a regular car and a bus. If you are two traveling in a skinny environmental car, you can get down in the climate footprint on a level with bus commuting.
But with a bicycle, emissions – and car queues – become zero. Electric bicycles are also noticeably disappearing on the climate bill in relation to cars and public transport.
After a morning at work, it’s time to have lunch. Several variables play into the lunch equation, but the main one is: What is on the plate?
– The most important thing is to opt-out of beef. The more vegetable the meal is, the better it is in terms of climate.
Just over 20 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions are from what we put into our bodies, and this is a substantial part of our overall climate footprint.
A lacto / ovo diet, ie vegetarian with eggs and milk products, reduces the impression per person and year from a regular diet, which gives rise to 1.8 tonnes of emissions, to a tons. The vegan diet further reduces it to half a tonne per year.
But this is true if you consistently eat that diet, not just for lunch.
Another thing to keep an eye on the plate is air transported vegetables. Asparagus and sugar peas when not in season, for example. Eating locally produced, on the other hand, does not make much difference in climate considerations if the alternative has been shipped to your country in, for example, a boat, where the freight gives a very small climate footprint eliminated per vegetable.
But what is best – to bring leftovers or eat lunch? Much is reported about how we throw away food, so we should probably do a climate service when we bring in leftovers.
Of course, it is better to eat up the food you have, but the one that plays a marginal role when it comes to climate impact.
If we halve the waste in households and restaurants, emissions will be reduced by about five percent. We mainly throw things with low emissions.
At the same time, restaurants have the advantage of economies of scale and this could help to use electricity more efficiently there than in our kitchen at home.
Anyone who buys their lunch in pick-up boxes made of plastic or frigolite, for example, can add more to their climate imprint. They are usually made of fossil raw material and take energy to produce. In addition, by combustion or energy recovery, they provide a net addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Of course, this also applies to plastic packaging we use in the home. The manufacture of the most common form of plastic packaging gives rise to several kilos of carbon dioxide emissions per kilogram of plastic.