Low Carbon, Zero Waste Journey: Choosing My Poison (1/2)

Low Carbon, Zero Waste Journey: Choosing My Poison (1/2)

Recap: Usually I run at locations where I am working, however two events are coming up at locations no where near my work where I am to be their “Sustainability Development Ambassador” (SDA):

With such a title, I couldn’t simply fly in and out of the event. It was time for a new challenge. As the SDA, I would have to make these projects into a low carbon zero waste running journey. But how do we examine the carbon emissions?

During the investigation process, I jumped into the rabbit hole of examining all aspects of the full life cycle of each available process. What a mind field! Between train, plane, cars and ferry how would you order these in terms of the greenhouse gases generated from each considering their full life cycle? When you begin to look at every aspect such as the manufacture of the vehicle, transportation of the vehicle to you plus the infrastructure like roads and tracks that had to be laid down…the answer is not pretty. An answer lies in the following URL from the new scientist.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17260-train-can-be-worse-for-climate-than-plane/

How Low Will You Go?

As I went deeper into the rabbit hole, decided I needed to simplify my thinking. Hence the focus was on the potential carbon footprint I would have by taking an already made vehicle.

Ref: https://bloggreyhound.com/green-ways-to-travel/

The surprising part here is that a train could be as carbon polluting compared to a plane. However this is a US interpretation and their electricity is mainly generated by coal fired/fossil fueled power stations.

I found this lovely diagram on the web for European travel to help all of us define this quicker.

Ref: https://uk.parkindigo.com/en/news/blog/planes-trains-and-automobiles-the-carbon-most-efficient-way-to-travel

Notice the coach travel is now higher in carbon emissions than the train!

However the thought that rail travel energy could still be from a coal fired power station bothered me. As the journey would be through either France or Germany, “the web” told me that both countries still have coal fired electricity power stations as well as non-fossil fuel power stations (nuclear and others). So the carbon emissions would be difficult to calculate…..and whilst the toxic waste from nuclear still exists as waste, am not keen on nuclear either. After all this journey is a low carbon, zero waste journey.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-coal-power-station-emmanuel-macron-davos-shut-2021-a8176796.html

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/coal-germany

Thus without the guarantee that the trains would be powered from non-polluting (no toxic waste and no green house gases), I decided the only solution would be to cycle all the way. Unless I can develop or someone can create a solar panel car for me…..Hmmmm….

Some final questions for this blog post:

Question 1: As it has been highlighted that the plastic waste that developed countries had been recycling had mostly been exported and a good percentage was being dumped in landfills and in the ocean, as well as “recycled” plastic is downgraded plastic and will end up being dumped, is it better to create “waste to energy” incinerators?

Nobody wants an incinerator near them and everyone wants to blame the government / manufacturers but can you do something about it? After all your children would like to see the adults become more responsible and not provide excuse after excuse.

Question 2: What are the top 4 greenhouse gas generating sectors and in what order?

We’ll have a look at this in my next blog post – as part of my own education that am sharing with you.

Finally another couple of images about car emissions and the number of people in a car:

Ref: http://w3.unisa.edu.au/facilities/transportation/sustainable-transport2010.asp
Ref: https://www.eea.europa.eu/media/infographics/co2-emissions-from-passenger-transport/view
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3 thoughts on “Low Carbon, Zero Waste Journey: Choosing My Poison (1/2)

  1. Pingback: No Backing Out

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