The Great Canadian Carbon Offset 2006

The Calculation

The Great Canadian Mileage Run of 2005 clocked over 1 million Aeroplan miles, which represents around 330,000 of actual flight miles.

In order to calculate our fundraising target, we started by asking Atmosfair for a rough estimate of the CO2 likely emitted in 330,000 non-contiguous miles of flight.

Based on the following assumptions:
- one passenger consumes 4 liters of kerosene per 100 kilometers, a reasonable, conservative estimate for long distance flights (e.g. of British Airways)
- 1 liter kerosene = 0.8 kg kerosene
- 1 kg kerosene = 3.15 kg CO2 (remember that oxygen is added during combustion, increasing the weight)
- on long distance flights (cruising altitude above 9 kilometres) the total warming impact of CO2, condensation trails, ozone formation, et cetera, is 2.7 times bigger than that of CO2 alone (calculation of CO2 equivalent impact, according to IPCC)
– 1 metric ton of CO2 will cost CAD$15 to offset

We estimate that the flights had the effect of emitting 140 metric tons of CO2:

330,000 miles × 1.609344 (km / mile) × 0.04 (L kerosene / km)
= 21,243 L kerosene

21,243 L kerosene × 0.8 (kg kerosene / L kerosene)
= 16,994 kg kerosene

16,994 kg kerosene × 3.15 (kg CO2 / kg kerosene)
= 53,531 kg CO2

53,531 kg CO2 × 2.7 (kg CO2 equivalent impact / kg CO2)
= 14,4534 kg CO2

...or roughly 140 metric tons of CO2

140 metric tons CO2 × 15 (CAD$ / metric ton CO2)
= CAD$2100

Keep in mind that this is a best-effort calculation, based on the information available to us, and thanks to the support of Atmosfair and Offsetters. In the event that we have overestimated the emissions, the environment wins.

Atmosfair offers an online tool to calculate flight emissions based on your own personal flight details. They have published a background paper on the calculator; it's available here.

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