Achieving Net Zero Emissions Requires an Understanding of Your Own Carbon Emissions
Enormous changes are needed to our global energy infrastructure to address the causes of climate change, but gaining local and global momentum requires that we as individuals have a better understanding of our own personal energy use and CO₂ emissions. In this lecture, Professor Bruce Logan, author of the book "Daily Energy Use and Carbon Emissions", will elaborate on how we can alter our current lifestyles of energy use by understanding energy use and CO₂ emissions using quantities and terms rooted in everyday life.
Info about event
University of Copenhagen, Department of Chemistry, Universitetsparken 5, Copenhagen Ø - Auditorium Small UP1, DIKU building
Daily Energy Use and Carbon Emissions by Bruce Logan, Penn State University
Talk for: University of Copenhagen, December 6, 2022
How much energy does your house use in a month? What impact will turning off lightbulbs in your home have on energy conservation?
The major challenge in quantifying carbon emissions is understanding how to add them up for different energy sources.
In this lecture, Bruce Logan explains energy use and carbon emissions in simple terms from the perspective of individual consumption, helping us to better appreciate and address the impact our activities have on climate change.
Enormous changes are needed to our global energy infrastructure to address the causes of climate change, but gaining local and global momentum requires that people have a better understanding of their own personal energy use and CO2 emissions. A major challenge in quantifying carbon emissions is understanding how to add them up for different energy sources.
For example, energy is reported for food in Calories, kcal, or megajoules, for gasoline in units of volume (gallons or liters), and for natural gas as energy (BTU or therm) or volume (CCF or cubic meters). Also, carbon emissions for these energy sources are rarely discussed.
To better understand and quantify carbon emissions Dr. Logan presents the concept of the daily energy unit D, and the daily carbon (CO2) emission unit C. By defining 1 D as the energy in the food that you eat every day (2000 kcal or 8.4 megajoules) all energy use can be expressed relative to food energy as D units (daily food energy), making that quantity of energy familiar to every human on the planet as we all need about the same amount of food. Similarly, a daily carbon emission is of 1 C is defined as the CO2 emitted relative to that released each day by a person due to eating that food (~0.9 kg). Therefore, we can easily compare energy and CO2 emissions for people around the world in terms of D and C relative to food energy and carbon released for different activities such as petrol for our car, electricity generation or gas heating of our homes, or total energy for systems that generate the food that we eat every day.
For example, using a liter of petrol every day in your car would require 4 D (four times your food energy), and it would release 2.6 times the amount of CO2 from eating your food (2.6 C). I will show how your personal energy use in Denmark compares to averages for people in different nations and regions around the world, such as 100 D and 49 C on average for a person in the US.
This information on daily energy use and carbon emissions is central to taking meaningful steps to intelligently create effective policies for making infrastructure changes needed to move away from a global dependence on fossil fuels.
About Dr. Bruce Logan
Professor Bruce Logan, PhD, is an Evan Pugh University Professor in Engineering, the Stan & Flora Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, and Director of the Engineering Energy & Environmental Institute at Penn State University.
He is the author of the book "Daily Energy Use and Carbon Emissions", an accessible and relatable approach for understanding how much energy we use in our day-to-day lives. The book enables readers to directly evaluate their energy use, estimate the resulting carbon emissions, and use the information to better appreciate and address the impact their activities have on climate change.