Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Big Picture - but which one?

When I decided to apply for a job in Singapore, I didn't really think about the impact that it would have on my carbon footprint, other than feeling guilty about the flights. Now that I'm here and have started the blog, I thought I'd have a quick look. I came across this article in the Guardian (a British newspaper) and nearly fell off my chair. By moving from the UK to Singapore, I had just tripled my annual carbon emissions.

Having had a bit more time to do some research, I found more statistics, this time on Wikipedia. According to this the average carbon dioxide emissions per capita in Singapore are just less than the UK.

What's going on? Which is correct - three times the UK, or just less??? Actually, as this relates to statistics both answers are correct. It all depends on what you include in the calculations. This useful article explains that the difference is down to whether or not you include Singapore's marine bunkers i.e. the fuel used by shipping. Given that Singapore has the world's largest marine bunkering centre in the world, it explains the large difference.

Image from lowcarbonsg.com

So which statistic should I use for my comparison? It's a bit like the debate about how we should include the emissions associated with air travel or products manufactured in other countries. For now, I think I will go with the lower figure, given that the emissions associated with the marine bunker would be divided by a much greater number of people than the population of Singapore in more complex calculation.

But then again, who's currently got the emissions related to all the food and products that's brought in. Nnrgh! It's not easy being green!

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