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Introducing the Carbemi: The Currency of Environmental Impact

Posted at 2023-07-16 11:27:18 by Matthew

Understanding emission factors and their impact on the environment is crucial in our fight against climate change. But let's face it, it's hard to wrap our heads around the magnitude of emissions. How does buying a new sweater compare to eating a kilo of chicken? Traditional analogies like kilometers driven or trees planted fall short when we're talking about thousands of kilometers or hectares of trees. That's where the Carbemi1 comes in!

Just like money, the Carbemi provides a relatable framework for emission factors. It's time to welcome a new currency to the world: the Earth Carbemi! Move over Dollars, Euros, and Pesos – the Carbemi is here to measure our environmental impact.

Let's paint a picture: 1 Carbemi equals 0.1 kgCO2e (and 1 Dollar/Euro). With a daily budget of around 10 kgCO2e per person2, that's 100 Carbemi per day or 36,500 Carbemi per year. Imagine you have 100 euros to spend per day (or 36,500 euros per year). Some of it goes towards fixed costs like rent and insurance, but the rest is yours to indulge. Do you splurge on lunch outings or save up for an extravagant dinner?

Now, imagine you have 100 Carbemi to spend per day (or 36,500 Carbemi per year). Your choices take on a new meaning. Let's explore some relatable examples that demonstrate the varying orders of magnitude of emissions:

Pocket change (5 euro cent) - Charging your phone (0.05 Carbemi, or 5 Carbemicent)3
No need to sweat it – charging your phone won't make a dent in your Carbemi budget. Charge away!

Buying a coffee (2-3 euros) - A (large) cup of coffee (2-3 Carbemi)4
Surprisingly, your morning caffeine fix and the environmental cost match up. Keep this as your easy reference.

Having a restaurant meal (30-40 euros) - Eating vegetarian or vegan for 1 day (30-40 Carbemi)5
Affordable, but considering the daily impact, worth making conscious choices.

A weekend getaway (300-400 euros) - A pair of jeans: (300-400 Carbemi)6
Time to replace those worn-out jeans? Not too bad for an occasional splurge.

A month’s rent (1,000-2,000 euros) - One-way flight within Europe (1,000-2,000 Carbemi)7
Save those Carbemi whenever you can. It's a significant chunk of your budget.

Buying a small car (10,000-12,000 euros) - Overseas return flight (10,000-12,000 Carbemi)8
Think twice before booking that flight. It's a big investment in both money and emissions.

Annual income (20,000-40,000 euros) - Heating a residential home for a year (20,000-40,000 Carbemi)9
This is where your reductions truly count. Make an impact by optimizing your home's heating.

Lifetime savings (150,000-350,000 euros)10 - Producing a car (150,000-350,000 Carbemi)11
Think of it as a lifelong investment. The emission costs are substantial, so choose wisely.

As we can see, the monetary costs don't keep up with the environmental costs as things get more expensive. It's a reminder that our planet pays the real price.

Relating emission factors to relatable examples helps us comprehend their environmental impact. Let's consider the environmental value of emission factors just like we do with money. By striving for a low-carbon economy, we protect our planet for generations to come. It's time to make every Carbemi count!

  1. To facilitate widespread use of the Carbemi, we have released it in the Creative Commons public domain:

    To the extent possible under law, LiveLCA has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Carbemi

  2. See our blog about your daily CO2 budget; Remember that 25% of that budget is reserved for food = 2.7 kg CO2e 

  3. full charge of phone 0.02 kWh: ; emission factor of electricity in EU in 2020: 0.25 kgCO2e / kWh:; accessed July 9th 2023 

  4. According to our emission factors on coffee, coffee is estimated to emit 0.7 kg CO2e per liter (or 70 Carbemi). So conveniently, a large cup of coffee would set you back 2-3 Carbemi. 

  5. Scarborough, P., Appleby, P. N., Mizdrak, A., Briggs, A. D., Travis, R. C., Bradbury, K. E., & Key, T. J. (2014). Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic change, 125(2), 179-192. High-meat eaters: 7.2 kg CO2e / day, medium meat eaters: 5.6 kg CO2e / day, low-meat eaters: 4.7 kg CO2e / day, pescetarians: 3.9 kg CO2e / day, vegetarians: 3.8 kg CO2e / day, vegans: 2.9 kg CO2e / day. 

  6. pair of jeans emits 33 kg CO2e:; accessed July 9th 2023  

  7. 100-200 kgCO2e for one-way flight according to Google flights; accessed July 9th 2023 

  8. 500-600 kgCO2e for one-way flight (1000-1200 kg CO2e for a return) according to Google flights; accessed July 9th 2023  

  9. 2000-4000 kgCO2e for a US household in 2007:  

  10. 200-300k dollars life savings at retirement age:; accessed July 9th 2023 

  11. 17 tCO2e for medium spec, 25t CO2e for top of the range:; accessed July 9th 2023