Jan 10, 2016: How To Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Chevy Bolt Released In US

The new Chevrolet Bolt EV goes into production

The new Chevrolet Bolt EV goes into production

As described in this Gizmag article, Chevrolet has started production of their new ‘Bolt’ Electric Vehicle (EV). It will go on sale in the US with a price tag of around $38,000 (although the US offers a $7,500 rebate on EV’s so it will cost customers about $30k) and a range of about 320 km. Unfortunately there is no indication of when (or even if) it will be offered for sale in Australia or what the price tag might be here. This is a shame because it seems like it would offer an attractive alternative to the currently available EV options. Unfortunately sales of EV’s are very low in Australia so companies like Chevrolet are reluctant to offer their products here. If we’re serious about reducing our carbon emissions perhaps our various governments should consider offering some form of tax incentive or rebate similar to those available to car buyers in Europe and the United States.

But perhaps Australia will bypass EV’s altogether and move to an altogether more futuristic option…

The Ehang 184 AAV

The Ehang 184 AAV

Introducing the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle

Most readers will be aware of two huge current trends in global research and development… one is the Quadcopter and the other is the Autonomous Vehicle. Thousands of small quadcopter drones are being developed for a wide variety of uses ranging from aerial photography to delivery of parcels. There is also a massive effort by car makers and others around the world (Apple and Google being notable examples) to develop self-driving cars (or Autonomous Vehicles). What you see in the photo above is the Ehang 184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) which, according to this Gizmag article, will carry a single person at speeds up to 100km/h for up to 23 minutes on a full battery charge of 14.4kWh. And you won’t need a pilot’s license because the thing will fly itself… think of it as an autonomous delivery drone for people.

I don’t know about you but my mind jumps to scenes from science fiction movies where people move around cities via aerial highways. And while this is not about to become reality just yet (for one thing the Ehang 184 will cost between US$200k and $300k) we do seem to be heading in that direction. But for me this raises the question of how these developments are likely to affect our carbon footprint. A quick calculation based on the figures given for the AAV tells me that 14.4kWh of electricity will give it a range of about 38km. Meanwhile my Outlander PHEV (which is by no means the most efficient electric vehicle available) gets about 50km from a charge of about 10kWh. So at this stage the AAV is certainly not a more energy efficient form of transportation. On the contrary, it seems to offer a way for the rich and shameless to avoid traffic congestion but not a way for us to tackle climate change.

Understanding Our Carbon Footprint

Understanding our carbon footprint at a personal level, is a difficult and complex proposition, let alone trying to figure out how a whole society might reduce its carbon emissions. If you’re interested in gaining a better understanding of the many factors that effect carbon footprints, a friend has introduced me to an excellent internet resource entitled ShrinkThatFootprint.com

This is a fantastic website that clearly explains the many factors that make up our personal, national and global carbon footprints as well as offering sound advice on how we can reduce them. Starting with the simple question ‘What Is A Carbon Footprint?’ the complexities are broken down into comprehensible chunks and explained with the help of graphs and images such as the following:

Carbon Footprints by Nationality

The website is aimed at US readers but, as you can see, we Australians are not far behind the US in terms of Carbon Footprint per Capita so all the information and advice on the site is just as relevant to us as to the yanks. When you consider that the global average footprint is 5.6 tCO2e and ours is about four times the average at 20.6 tCO2e, we have every reason to be thinking about how we can make reductions. And this site offers plenty of advice along those lines. Below are links to the various sections of the site:

Introduction: The Shrink Guide
1: What is a carbon footprint?
2: What is climate change?
3: Carbon targets for your footprint
4: Calculate your carbon footprint
5: Shrink your housing footprint
6: Shrink your travel footprint
7: Shrink your food footprint
8: Shrink your product footprint
9: Shrink your service footprint
10: Take further climate action
Conclusion: Take action

Over the next few weeks I will be focusing in more detail on some of the key points and ways we can reduce our own carbon footprint and what specific things we are doing here at the Greeny Flat. Meanwhile you can use the links above to learn more about it for yourself and start thinking about ways you can reduce your own carbon footprint.

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