CO2 emissions

What is a tonne of CO2 and how is it generated?

We hear about global warming, CO2 emissions and carbon offsetting all the time At the same time, you also keeping hearing that every Swiss resident emits about 5 tonnes in CO2 emissions every year. But just what is a tonne of CO2, and how do these emissions come about? The following information and illustrations should give you a better idea of what these figures represent exactly.

Illustrating the volume of CO2

A tonne of CO2 equates to the volume of a swimming pool that is 25 meters long, 10 meters wide and 2 meters deep.

(Source: Swiss Climate)

Travelling: The smart choice is to travel by train

According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, your average Swiss resident went on 3.3 trips (including overnight stays) in 2017, two thirds of which were trips abroad. The mode of transport we use to travel has a profound impact on the climate: a return flight to Cyprus, for instance, produces 1 tonne of CO2, whereas a return on the TGV from Zurich to Paris only produces 4 kilos of CO2.

  • As we mentioned above, a return flight to Cyprus (Zurich–Larnaca) generates 1 tonne of CO2 – in other words a swimming pool amount. As a rule, a return flight in economy class of about 5,000 kilometres generates around 0.991 tonnes of CO2 per person.

    (Source: My Climate)

  • A 5,800 -kilometre trip in an SUV, which uses up 6.5 litres of diesel every 100 kilometres and weighs about 2,500 kilos, will emit 1 tonne of CO2.

    3 return journeys to Naples in an SUV equates to 1 tonne of CO2.

    (Source: Ecoconso)

  • A 8,300 -kilometre journey by car, which uses up 5 litres of petrol every 100 kilometres and weighs around 1,150 kilos, will emit 1 tonne of CO2.

    4 return journeys to Naples by car equate to 1 tonne of CO2.

    (Source: Ecoconso)

  • According to the French railway company SNCF, a ride on the TGV emits 3.2 g of CO2 per kilometre travelled. This equates to CO2 emissions of 1,920 g per person for each Zurich to Paris trip.

    (Source: SNCF)

In the house: Cutting down on CO2 emissions starts at home

Avoid putting domestic appliances/devices on stand-by mode. Shutting them off completely could save around 200 kilos of CO2 per household per year. You could also save around 180 kilos of CO2 by only using the tumble dryer during the winter months. Last but not least, the CO2 emissions emitted by a 4-person household could be reduced by about 350 kilos by lowering the room temperature by 1 degree.

  • 2.5 barrels of crude oil (400 litres) or 380 litres of light crude oil equates to 1 tonne of CO2.

    A single-family home with an oil-fired heating system will consume approximately 1,900 litres of heating oil each year, which in turn produces an average of 5 tonnes of CO2.

    (Source: Swiss Climate)

  • 7,500 kilowatt hours of electricity (Swiss electricity mix) equates to 1 tonne of CO2.

    This is how much electricity a five-room house with an electric oven, electric boiler and a washer-dryer consumes on average per year.

    (Source: Swiss Climate)

  • A year of heating equates to 1 tonne of CO2.

    Heating a living space measuring 45 square metres – in other words a 1.5-room flat or the average living space per Swiss resident – produces about 1 tonne of CO2 a year.

    (Source: Swiss Climate)

Food: Not just vegetarian or vegan, but above all local too

We all know that reducing meat consumption makes a positive contribution to the climate. However, fruit and vegetables imported into Switzerland by air should also be avoided.

  • The origin of products is key. 1 tonne of CO2 is emitted by the following quantities of fruits and vegetables:

    • 1,887 kilos, locally produced
    • 1,316 kilos, sourced from European countries
    • 1,150 kilos, sourced from overseas (transported by sea)
    • 88.5 kilos, sourced from overseas (transported by air)

    (Source: Swissveg)

  • The origin of the products is key. 1 tonne of CO2 is emitted by the following quantities of poultry:

    • 268 kilos, locally produced
    • 253 kilos, sourced from European countries
    • 245 kilos, sourced from overseas (transported by sea)
    • 68.9 kilos, sourced from overseas (transported by air)

    (Source: Swissveg)

  • The origin of the products is key. 1 tonne of CO2 is emitted by the following quantities of pork:

    • 310 kilos, locally produced
    • 289 kilos, sourced from European countries
    • 280 kilos, sourced from overseas (transported by sea)
    • 71.4 kilos , sourced from overseas (transported by air)

    (Source: Swissveg)

  • The origin of the products is key. 1 tonne of CO2 is emitted by the following quantities of beef:

    • 73 kilos, locally produced
    • 71.6 kilos, sourced from European countries
    • 71 kilos, sourced from overseas (transported by sea)
    • 40.8 kilos, sourced from overseas (transported by air)

    (Source: Swissveg)

Digital sphere: Think about the climate when you google

When we surf the net, not only do our personal devices consume electricity, but so do the computers on which websites are stored. As such, by unsubscribing from unnecessary newsletters or navigating to a website directly rather than using a search engine, you can do your bit for the environment.

  • A desktop computer with a speaker and printer that uses 200 watts per hour and is on 8 hours a day for 5.7 years will produce 1 tonne of CO2.

    (Source: Energyguide)

  • A laptop that uses 75 watts per hour and is on 8 hours a day for 15.15 years will produce 1 tonne of CO2.

    (Source: Energyguide)

  • Every web query produces 0.8 g of CO2. This means 1.25 million web queries equates to 1 tonne of CO2.

    (Source: Energyguide)

Nature: Felling and planting trees

Trees absorb CO2 through photosynthesis. However, it takes a very long time for a tree to absorb 1 tonne of CO2. If a tree is felled and the wood is burned or just left there, then the CO2 seeps back into the atmosphere.

  • The amount of CO2 trees capture depends on the species and age of the tree. In Swiss forests, each tree will capture an average of 260 kilos of CO2. This means it would take three to four trees to capture 1 tonne of CO2.

    (Source: Almighty Tree)

  • Producing 800 kilos of virgin fibre paper – i.e. 150 ,000 A4 sheets – leads to 1 tonne of CO2 emissions.

    (Source: Swiss Climate)

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