I always liked outdoor activities and as such worried about degradation of the environment and climate change. But I never actively tried to do something about it, which changed after becoming a father. I worry about the world I’m leaving for my children and after reading more on the topic (I can recommend Bill Gates’ How to avoid a Climate Disaster), I too am convinced immediate action is required to keep our planet livable.

But even if you don’t have children and don’t think you share the world’s problems, there are reasons you should be worried about climate change, because:

  • if you live in a country that’s in a climate change danger zone, the area you live in might become uninhabitable,
  • and even if you live in a safe, rich country, people affected by climate change will migrate to your country, putting more stress on already stretched social/health services,
  • there will be significant increase in demand for solutions for climate change adaption and prevention, which you can jump into with new products and services.

But what can I do? In the future I want to use my IT skills to help solve climate change issues, but a step I can take right now is compensating the emission caused by my consumption. Mobility causes a large portion of our CO2 emissions, in my case my petrol car, which I want to compensate. It causes emissions by being produced, driven and maintained. Although it’s easy to calculate the grams of CO2 emitted by driving it (burning a liter of petrol produces roughly 2.2 kg CO2) it’s too hard for me to calculate the total CO2 emitted by owning and driving my car. Luckily the European Parliament published an infographic that gives some numbers on the total emissions from buying and using a petrol, diesel, or battery powered cars. There are many, many other sources that cite different numbers (some much higher, others lower) but to keep my sanity I’ll just stick with the EP’s.

According to the infographic the cost of owning and driving my car for 1 km is about 230 grams. Although I’ve largely been working from home last 2 years due to COVID-19 I expect to drive around 10,000 km this year, so I’ll have to compensate 0.230×10000/1000=2.3 tons of CO2 this year.

There are many organizations that allow you to compensate CO2 through different means. E.g., planting trees, helping people to replace wood burning stoves with gas stoves, or buying and destroying CO2 certificates, each of these ways having their pros and cons. I chose to compensate through Trees for All. While they don’t permanently store carbon (CO2 released when trees cut down and burned or when they die and rot), they have additional local benefits like retaining moisture, cooling the area and helping to preserve wildlife. In addition, I chose to compensate the CO2 emitted by our gas fuelled central heating as well, which amounts to roughly 2 tons.

By compensating our CO2 emissions, we won’t avert the climate disaster Bill Gates and many others warn us for. But it’s a small, first step that all of us can take. Ultimately we must find ways to prevent emissions in the first place, rather than trying to compensate for it afterwards.