The Impact of Greenhouse Gas Emissions on our Everyday Lives

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This post was contributed by Fiona Wirz-Endrys

Ever thought of how CO2 emissions are calculated, and how this ties into your daily life?

Here’s what you should know:

What is CO2?

CO2 is one of the primary greenhouse gasses which contribute to climate change. CO2e, meaning “CO2 Equivalent”, is a term to describe what all greenhouse gases would convert to, in CO2 levels. For example, one tonne of Methane (CH4) equates to 25 tonnes of CO2, in the CO2 equivalent. Together, all greenhouse gases contribute to long-term health effects, as well as the increase in the temperature of our planet.

What is the greenhouse effect?

The greenhouse effect is the primary cause for climate change, which occurs when radiation from the sun gets trapped under the earth’s atmosphere due to higher levels of greenhouse gasses. Through the cumulative entrapment of heat from the sun, our planet has been heating up at an exponential rate. As a prevention method, the Paris Climate Agreement attempted to prevent CO2 emissions from raising global temperatures well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

What part of your day causes the most CO2e Emissions?

  • You may have already guessed what the answer is – yes, it is transportation. In fact, in 2015, 49% of emissions in Waterloo Region were from transportation, which is mainly a result of the car-centric city. Think about how much we have relied on traveling alone in our cars, the number of hours we spend in our vehicle, in traffic each week. Our recent report shows that despite Waterloo Region’s Climate Action Plan to reduce emissions by 6% from by 2020, transportation emissions have risen by 5% since 2010. This will hopefully change with the new Light Rail Transit system opening next year. So when it is ready, you could greatly reduce your carbon footprint by using this new form of public transit.
  • The workplace. This may be one you often don’t think about, but 27% of CO2e emissions are emitted here. Thankfully, emissions have reduced by 17% since 2010.
  • Homes. Homes are third on the list, accounting for 18% of the Region’s emissions. What’s more, housing has decreased in emissions by 10% in the last 6 years.

So what’s next?

With CO2e reductions on Waterloo Region’s priority list, we can help by thinking about our days and where we burn the most fossil fuel. We all have our impact on our community, country, world, and CO2 plays a large part in this.

Where can we help?

A great place to start is by reading our Actions page to learn more about our progress in Waterloo Region, or check out how you can participate with local initiatives, here.