The Carbon Footprint Numbers

With all the talk about carbon footprint, and with the City of Tallahassee moving aggressively toward reducing our already low carbon footprint through energy conservation, it is time to define carbon footprint in terms everyone can understand. 

First, we have reported here that due to the use of natural gas we have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the country. But what does that mean in terms that we can understand?

For each kilowatt hour of electricity generated, approximately 1.2 pounds of CO2 emission is created. A home that uses 1,000 kwh per month would generate approximately 1200 pounds of CO2 emissions per month.

For comparison purposes, lets look at the amount of CO2 emissions generated from automobiles. A gallon of fuel generates approximately 20 pounds of CO2 emissions. A vehicle that averages 20 mpg and drives 1000 miles a month would generate approximately 1000 pounds of CO2 emissions.

The City of Tallahassee electric utility has approximately 90,000 residential customers and the 198,000 people that live in these residences drive approximately 150,000 automobiles.  Based on these numbers it would appear automobiles generate more CO2 emissions than our use of electricity. Lets take a closer look.

For one month, on average, the 90,000 residences generate 54,000 tons of CO2 emissions while the automobiles driven generate 75,000 tons of CO2 emissions. These numbers indicate there are more opportunities to further lower our carbon footprint by reducing automobile emissions than emissions generated by the use of electricity.

Given these numbers, maybe public policies should lean toward making it easier to give up our car 3 or 4 times a month versus cutting our electric use by 10%? 

What do you think would be easier to give up?

One Response to "The Carbon Footprint Numbers"

  1. I pay my “carbon offset” for both utility and gas through taxes imposed by the city…

    Tell you what… I have a tree I have been threatening to cut down for three years – leaves and branches falling, tree sap…

    I will once again, agree not to cut down my personal tree in my effort to offset my carbon footprint.

    If UF can offset the carbon footprint of a football game by agreeing not to cut timberland… (until the timber is ready to be harvested)… why can’t I???

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