The Carbon Footprint of Europe on Track 2!

Written by on . Posted in All Y4PT Chapters, Y4PT Belgium & EU

Written by Jerome Kisielewicz and Thiago Tavares

Carbon footprintFor the second edition of Europe on Track, Y4PT has been very pleased to collaborate with AEGEE. We consider this project as a great way to mobilize the European youth, have a grasp of their vision of the world and encourage them to reflect about different challenges and solutions. Considering that Y4PT’s objective is to encourage the use of more sustainable modes of transport, we supported the project through two initiatives.

Firstly, as the 6 AEGEE ambassadors were travelling around Europe by different means of transport, we offered them a way to better understand the impact of their mobility choices on our climate. Why is this important?

In the EU, transport is responsible for 25% of the total greenhouse gases emissions (GHG). And while you could think that the majority of these emissions are due to the transport of goods around the continent, passenger transport is actually responsible for 58% of the EU transport emissions! It is therefore crucial for the European citizens to understand that their daily mobility choices can have a real impact on the EU efforts to decrease its GHG emissions and thus avoid the worst impact of climate change.

To help our ambassadors monitor their choices, Y4PT members designed a carbon footprint calculator specifically dedicated to transport. The EoT ambassadors were very dedicated in registering every move inside and outside the cities and based on this tool, they were be able to realise how much GHG they were emitting while travelling and what impact their choices of mode of transport could have on these emissions.

Carbon Footprint - FinalDuring their 4 weeks of travel, the ambassadors travelled a total of 17.096 Km of which 70% by train and less than 15% by car or plane. The Red Team was responsible for more than 2/3 of the total travel with a total 11.488 Km. Along their journey, they have used different modes of transport including train (63%), plane (21%), bus (13%), car (1%) and walking/cycling (<1%).

On the other hand, the Blue Team has travelled the great majority of its 5.607 Km by train (84%). The rest of the travels were done by metro, trams, buses and cycling/walking. The different approach of both teams is clearly reflected in their emissions.

Although the Red Team has travelled almost the double of the Km of the Blue Team, their emissions were more than six times higher, mostly due to the use of the plane during part of their journey.

In total, the ambassadors emitted 6.2 tonnes of CO2. While this might seem a very small amount compared to the total EU GHG emission (4 550 million tonnes CO2e in the EU-27 in 2011), these perceptions might change if this figure is compared with what would be needed to compensate these emissions (i.e. reach a zero emission level through compensatory activities). Indeed, in order to compensate 1 tonne of CO2 emission, 5 new trees need to be planted and these trees have to live for more than 30 years! If we apply this logic to the total emissions of our travellers, this means that they would need to plant 30 trees and take care of them for 30 years to compensate all their emissions. The number of trees would even reach 55 if they were only travelling by car or 99 if travelling by plane during these four weeks!

The second activity that Y4PT organised was the visit of the local public transport system in two cities that visit by the EoT ambassadors, Warsaw and Prague. These visits had the objective of presenting to the participants the complexity of managing a public transport system to attend the needs of the population. A series of articles focused on this visits are going to be published soon, so don’t miss it!

This project was very enriching for us and laid the basis for our future work in Europe! If you are interested in knowing more about sustainable mobility, follow our Facebook page and our project Moving for Change!


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