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21 Nov 2023

Econ Digest

Carbon Footprint...A starting point for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that “anyone can do”


What is carbon footprint? How does it relate to ordinary people? Why carbon footprint needs to be measured? Let’s find out the answers today.
            An important issue of concern to the world nowadays is global warming. In July 2023, the Secretary-General of the United Nations said the era of global boiling has arrived, which means that climate change has become more serious. The main cause of global warming is the increase in greenhouse gases (GHG). Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary GHG emitted through the use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gases.
Currently, the increase in GHG has caused the global temperature to increase by 1.2 degrees Celsius, and July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded. The World meteorological Organization has warned that the world will face the El Niño weather phenomenon as a result of climate change, causing the world to become much warmer than usual and may last until 2029. Therefore, if we do not help reduce GHG from now on, the global temperature will rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius in 2 years and climate change will become even more severe. Climate change is therefore not just a matter of concern for governments or large organizations, but it is a problem that everyone must address.
Today, we may be producing GHG without realizing it, as GHG cannot be seen directly. Since we do not know where it comes from and how much is generated, scientists have devised a measurement of GHG from various activities, called carbon footprint, which is the footprint of GHG produced by various activities. The calculation of carbon footprint allows us to know the amount of GHG generated by activities we have done. This is our starting point for reducing GHG.

Method to easily calculate carbon footprint
    To calculate carbon footprint, we must use emission factor (EF), which is the value of GHG emitted by each activity. In Thailand, EF is published by the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO). You can calculate your carbon footprint as follows:

  1. Classify the list of activities that cause GHG in daily life within a certain period of time, which may start from 1 month and extend to 1 year, such as the use of cooking gas, electricity consumption and various forms of travel i.e., cars, motorcycles, buses and electric locomotives.
  2. Collect data based on activities. For example: How many kilograms of cooking gas are used? How many kilometers do you travel by car, motorcycle and bus? How many units of electricity are used per month? What is the weight of plastic waste per month?
  3. Calculate carbon footprint with EF.

Carbon footprint of activities that emit a large amount of GHG

  1. Traveling by private car at 20,000 km per year on average is equivalent to approximately 1,400 liters of gasoline, which is equal to 3,125.8 kgCO2e/year or equivalent to planting 209 trees to reduce GHG (the EF for traveling by car is 2.2327 kgCO2e/liter).
  2. The annual electricity consumption of 3,600 units (300 units per month) is equivalent to GHG of 1,799.64 kgCO2e/year or equivalent to planting 120 trees to reduce GHG (the EF for electricity consumption is 0.4999 kgCO2e/unit)
  3. Cooking gas consumption of two 15-kg sized tanks per year or 30kg per year is equivalent to GHG of 93.4 kgCO2e/year or equivalent to planting 7 trees (the EF for cooking gas consumption is 3.1134 kgCO2e/kg)

These 3 activities emit the equivalent of 5,018 kgCO2e/year. If this amount of GHG is to be reduced, up to 336 trees will have to be planted.

How to reduce carbon footprint?
    It can be seen that traveling by private car and electricity consumption emit a large amount of GHG. However, GHG can be reduced by approximately 80% by changing to travelling by public transport or shifting to electric cars.
    Reducing household electricity consumption is another way to reduce GHG emissions. This is because the proportion of fuel used in generating electricity mostly comes from natural gas. Another option is shifting to install solar cells to use electricity from renewable energy.
    Moreover, reducing waste by reusing or correctly sorting waste for proper recycling will help reduce GHG in the waste disposal process. It also indirectly helps the ecosystem by avoiding the discharge of waste into nature, such as waste entering water sources and oceans, causing marine animals to die from eating garbage.
Carbon footprint calculation is the starting point for saving the world from increasingly severe climate change. The sooner we start, the less impact rising global temperatures will have.


•    https://climate.copernicus.eu/2023-track-be-hottest-year-ever-whats-next
•    https://thaicarbonlabel.tgo.or.th/index.php?lang=TH&mod=YjNKbllXNXBlbUYwYVc5dVgyUnZkMjVzYjJGaw
•    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-02/global-temperatures-already-1-2-c-above-pre-industrial-levels
•    https://www.theverge.com/2023/5/20/23730210/el-nino-economic-costs-dartmouth-study
•    https://netzeroclimate.org/research/the-urgency-of-zero/

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