Sunday, 15 May 2011

Carbon emissions from leisure activities

In this post I compare different leisure activities according to how much carbon emissions are generated per hour. This is very different from the last post where I looked at how much carbon emissions are generated for each penny spent. For example, drinking beer in a pub has quite high carbon emissions per hour but is also very expensive.

Here is a summary. There is a huge variation in carbon emissions from all of the activities, depending on our behaviour and choices.

Having a beer in a pub

It depends on what you are drinking and how fast you drink!

Best case Worse case
CO2e/pt (1) 300 500
how many pints in an hour 1 2
g CO2e/hour 300 1000

Playing football with your mates

Playing football does not directly generate any carbon emissions and the embodied emissions in the football is almost certainly insignificant. However, you could be generating emissions in travelling to the game, and if you've got sweaty you will need a shower afterwards and have to put your clothes in the washing machine.
Best case Worse case
Getting to the game walk or jog 5 km by car: 1060 g CO2e (3)
Shower 3 minutes gentle shower 0.6kWh from gas = 110 g CO2e 5 minutes power shower
2kWh electricity = 1090 g CO2e
Laundry, say 1/10th of a load, 1kWh for wash. 2kWh for tumble dry wash and drip dry
0.1 kWh = 54g CO2e
wash and tumble dry
0.3 kWh = 160 g CO2e

How long you play for 90 minutes 1 hour
Total g CO2e/hour 110 2310

Reading a book

The carbon emissions in the book depend partly on how well it sells. A book that takes a lot of effort to produce, and then bombs so 90% of the copies printed are remaindered is a lot more expensive in carbon than a best seller. Penguin estimate 2.5kg CO2e for a popular paperback (2). Say it takes 10 hours to read the book. Then the carbon emissions depends on how many times you read it or lend it to friends.

Best case Worst case
how many times read 10 1
g CO2e/hour 25 250

Going to a show

I have been unable to do more than put a finger in the wind for the energy consumption and carbon emissions of the average theatre. (If you can give me some real figures please do.) My best guess is 16kW for lighting and sound in an auditorium for 800 so 20W/person. Then you can add in air conditioning at say 20W per person (based on removing all our body heat at an efficiency of 1 unit expended to remove 4 units of heat). If you are dancing as well then this will increase because you will be generating more heat, or maybe we just get very hot! If we're sitting down comfortably, it will be around 40W total so 22 g CO2e/person/hour.
Where it gets interesting, though is comparing a local band or group with a touring band. For example, the singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo from South Africa is currently touring in this country. The group is large, say 20 people including crew. Air travel for this many from Jo-burg (9000 km each way) comes to nearly 30 tonnes CO2e. There are 27 dates in their tour. Ignoring the travel within this country, if they have an average audience of 800 people and the show lasts 2 hours that adds around 700 g CO2e/watcher/hour.

Best case Worse case
Lighting and A/C g CO2e/person/hour. 40W so 22 40W so 22
Travel for band gCO2e/person/hour local so 0 20 people return trip from Johannesburg = 30 tonnes. 27 performances, each 2 hours, average audience 800 = 700g
Total g CO2e/person/hour 22 722

Watching TV

This one is really complicated. I'll save it for later!
  1. How Bad are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee
  2. WhatPenguinaredongtohelpreduceabookscarbonfootprint Penguin 2007
  3. average 212 g CO2e/passenger km 2010 Guidelines to DEFRA/DECC’s GHG Conversion Factors For Company Reporting DEFRA 2010

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