CO2 calculator

CO2 calculator
IPCC report of 2018: halve global emissions by 2030
Key messages from Greta Thunberg and the other youth activists
Climate crisis 10-point action plan Planting trees is not the answer Reduce your carbon footprint: 10% per year
Emissions from home energy Emissions from cars Emissions from food Buses Aviation
The "Net Zero 2050" UK Government deceits UK Government deceit: overclaiming the reduction in UK CO2 emissions
Basic UK energy and greenhouse gas statistics UK average footprint
References
About us

The climate crisis and what to do about it

Key points Climate change: the basics Stop burning fossil fuels: Stay within the budget of 420Gt CO2 Global emissions are rising and governments are failing The rising feeling of desperation Simple solutions for the climate crisis, which should have been implemented already

Action needed

Summary Local government Local government: Make walking safe National government Organisations Individuals Passivhaus home standards 'Offsetting'?

False and dubious solutions

Tree planting claims by Zurich scientists were withdrawn "Hydrogen power"

Awareness raising

Leaflets, video

Civil disobedience

Civil disobedience in a democracy: Q and A Civil disobedience and the law Extinction Rebellion

Reasons for optimism

Decline in UK domestic aviation Decline of domestic aviation in Sweden

Tecnicalities by sector

The UK has not cut its greenhouse gas emissions International comparisons "Green electricity" Health, education, etc emissions Trains Calculator version information

Standards of administration in a democracy

Effective planning Nolan's Seven Principles of Public Life

Performance assessments

Assessing performance on the climate crisis BEIS is not telling the truth on carbon emissions Transport for the North: Failing on the climate crisis Steve Rotheram: failing on the climate crisis

Best practice examples

Wirral Council's emission reduction trajectory Why trust this website?

Quotes

Quotes

Links

Links





Emissions from food

Total greenhouse gases

The total greenhouse gases from food is taken to be 2.2 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person per year.

The components of this are as shown (all figures below are per year):
ComponentUK million tonnesTonnes per personAvoidable tonnes per person
Fertilizer use420.70.7
Meat and dairy consumption240.40.4
Food transportation170.30.25
Packaging140.230.2
Processing of food110.180.15
Decomposition of food130.220.2
Unavoidable110.18
Total1322.211.9


Other estimates are:
Per person per yearSourceNotes
0.6 tonnes CO2 [1]for food and drink
1.4 tonnes CO2 [2]'Food and catering'
1.9 tonnes CO2 equ. [3] (The Cabinet Office report) from a UK total of 116 Mt CO2 equivalent for food - 110 Mt plus an allowance of 6 Mt for the balance of imports over exports (21 less 15 Mt)
2.0 tonnes CO2 equ. [4]
2.1 tonnes CO2 equ. [5]the main difference from source [2] is in the inclusion of methane and nitrous oxide as an equivalent amount of CO2.


Fertilizer use


So switching to organic food can reduce an individual's carbon footprint by 0.7 tonnes CO2 equ.

Meat and dairy foods


So switching to a vegan diet can reduce an individual's carbon footprint by 0.4 tonnes equ.

Food transportation


So switching to buying local food could save most of this total e.g. 0.25 tonnes per person.

Packaging


Buying minimally packaged foods could save most of this total i.e. 0.2 tonnes per person.

[Composting organic packaging could save a proportion of it]

Processed food


Avoiding processed food could save most of this i.e. 0.15 tonnes per person

Food waste

In the UK, about one third of the food bought is thrown away, and at least half of this is food that could have been eaten [6]. Inedible food includes potato peelings, bones, banana skins and teabags. Edible food can be discarded because too much is prepared, or because it has gone past its use-by date and so on.

Another way of looking at this is that relative to food eaten, on average another 25% is wasted, and a similar amount is inedible food.

If this 25% waste is reduced by half to 12.5%, then the edible food bought falls from 125% of what is eaten to 112.5%, and all emissions connected with food fall by one tenth - and the total amount discarded (edible plus inedible) falls by one quarter.

If someone throws away more food than average by half as much again, then the edible food bought rises from 125% of what is eaten to 137.5%, and all emissions connected with food rise by one tenth - and the total amount discarded (edible plus inedible) increases by one quarter.

Landfill decomposition of food


Composting or re-using food residues could save most of this i.e. 0.2 tonnes per person. This amount would be more or less depending on how much edible food is wasted.

Greenhouse gases that are not avoidable

These comprise [5]

These total 11 Mt CO2 equ (0.2 tonnes per person)

Miscellaneous points

UK food production is only 60% of UK consumption [3]

Food exports from the UK are worth around 6.5bn - with cereals and fish making the largest contribution [3] .

Food imports are worth almost 20bn, vegetables and fruit being the largest category [3] .

The origin of UK food is as follows (2006 data, based on unprocessed farm-gate prices) [3] :
49%UK
29%Europe (EFTA)
6%Africa
5%Asia
5%N. America
4%S. America
3%Other

Units & Abbreviations

Mt: million tonnes (referring to the UK total)
CO2 equ. : CO2 equivalent
Figures given are per year



References

[1]www.carbonfootprint.com/results.php (viewed 13.8.06)
[2]Carbon Trust (2006) The carbon emissions generated in all that we consume www.carbontrust.co.uk or www.carbonindependent.org/files/ctc603.pdf
[3]The Cabinet Office Strategy Unit (2008) Food: an analysis of the issues www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk or www.carbonindependent.org/files/cabinet_office_food_analysis.pdf
[4]Ethical Consumer Magazine Your Contribution to Climate Change (July/August 2005) (www.ethicalconsumer.org) and www.quakergreenaction.org (accessed 13.8.06) - see also [7]
[5]Chris Goodall (2007) How to live a low-carbon life (Earthscan)
[6]WRAP (2007) Understanding Food Waste www.wrap.org.uk or www.carbonindependent.org/files/foodwasteresearchsummaryfinaladp29_3__07_25a4c08b.b8683843.pdf
[7]Your Contribution to Climate Change (June 2007) www.livingwitness.org.uk (accessed 20.1.08), an update of source [4]


First published: 2008
Last updated: 27 May 2021