Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Calculate your bouldering Carbon Footprint

The above picture shows the total CO2 emissions in kilotons per country (red left) and the emissions per head in the same countries (blue right). I am not sure when or how this data was established but I found it not so long ago in the online edition of some famous french newspapers.

I must admit I always have been concerned about my impact on the environment and I am quite sure that most climbers and more generally those who love the outdoor are environmentally aware. Like most of us I usually try to do my bit to help. I use low energy light bulbs, recycle as much as possible and completely switch off most of my electrical appliances at night.... As an architect I decided to live within the city so I can usually walk / cycle to work and I have a recently built apartment which is supposedly better insulated.

But as a boulderer, I wanted to know what was my impact of the environment. And an obvious tool to quantify this is the carbon footprint test. Ireland's Plan of action on Climate change has a fairly straight forward carbon footprint test on their website http://www.change.ie/. You just register and fill in sections about your home, transport and waste. This is the result I got:

As shown on the comparison table if I was leaving in France, this would be fairly average, but as an resident of Ireland this is a good result. The trick then was to calculate how much of this was produced by my bouldering activity. In other words what amount of my carbon footprint is generated by:
  1. Driving to Wicklow / any outdoor bouldering venue

  2. Flying to Font or any other bouldering location on the continent

(Please note that a more precise quantification should also take into account the number of times you wash you climbing clothes, and the electricity used to light your training facility !)

So after a rapid estimation I took the test again excluding these transports figures and got the following result:

That basically means that bouldering is responsible for roughly 30% of my carbon emissions. Not exactly a environmentally friendly sport activity, is it?

So it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what can be done:
  1. Share your car as much as possible
  2. Replace famous venues (Font, Targassone, Albaracin, Sheffield...) by local exploration (Gap of Dunloe, Black Valley, Polldoo Glen...)

By the way that may sound alarmist but the oil peak is probably well past anyway