November 27, 2007


The IPCC Conference on Climate Change is taking place this Dec 3-14 in Bali, Indonesia.

The conference will have about 12,000 participants from 189 countries, and since Bali is in the middle of nowhere we can assume that the average participant flies 1/4ths of the Earth's circumference to attend, or about 6,000 miles.

Passenger air travel costs 0.18 kg CO2/passenger-mile, for long-distance flights. Of course, many participants will be taking private jets, which will throw this calculation way off.

So the total carbon emissions for travel to-and-from the conference are 26 MMT CO2 (million metric tons).

The average American emitted 24.1 MT CO2 in 2006, so travel to-and-from the Bali conference is equivalent to 1.1 M American-years of carbon expenditure. Or about what the city of Portland, Oregon spends in two years. . . . This is just for travel, and does not include travel on private jets, which is likely to be large.

They're certainly not acting like global warming is a crisis.

UPDATE: But David Appell's math is wrong. I should've noticed, but I hadn't had my coffee yet. But reader Bill Sommerfeld emails:

Check his math; it's off by a factor of about 1000.

0.18 kg/mile * 6000 miles/person = 1080kg / person (~ 1 metric ton)

Double that because folks will be flying both ways: 2160kg/person

2160 kg/person * 12000 people = 25,920,000 kg = 25,920 metric tons =
0.02592 million metric tons. This is ~1100 american-years or what the
city of Portland emits in 17 and a half hours.

But it's an underestimate because it doesn't include private jets.

That said, I agree with your basic point.

I think David's units got mixed up between kilograms and metric tons at some point, but I'm still on coffee number one, so . . . Anyway, the carbon-hogging isn't as bad as he makes it sound. Perhaps our planet will survive a bit longer. But it's still a big waste when they could do the whole thing via Internet videoconference.

And don't ignore all those private jets, so numerous that they'll overload the Bali airport.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh: "Let's just say I doubt the salt march would have been quite so successful had Gandhi been carried the whole way by Sherpas."