The Carbon Footprint of our Trip to France

During the half-term break we took a long overdue trip to France to visit my Dad. But with all the attention on climate change and COP26 dominating the news, I wondered just how much our mini-holiday would actually cost the planet. I have broken down the research into the following sections:

  • Air travel
  • Car travel
  • Covid implications
  • How to offset our holiday

I have used to find how many tonnes of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) each mode of transport would generate and how many trees we would need to plant to offset this level of carbon emission.

Air Travel

We all know the most environmentally damaging way to travel is by air. Personally I’ve always seen it as a luxury and get very excited every time I board an aeroplane. This was the second time my children have flown and I know they shared my excitement. Basically, we do not do it often and view it as a treat.

But nowadays you cannot escape the fact that travelling by air emits carbon into the atmosphere. So I have looked at how much CO2 was emitted as a result of our decision to travel by air.

2,000 km return flight x 5 passengers created 1,500 kg CO2 + 943 km by car to and from airports created 160 kg CO2; total 1,660 kg CO2.

Car Travel

We had looked at travelling down by car and Eurotunnel but with three teenagers all taller than me, we thought the 9½ hours each way spent in a car too much to endure.

The combined CO2 emission for the return trip would have been: 2,079 km by car 340 kg + Eurotunnel 175 kg = 515 kg CO2.

Covid Implications

As the children are not yet fully vaccinated we had to book antigen tests to enter France and more to leave. We also had to each carry out a Day 2 antigen test = 11 tests in total.

I can only find info on the CO2 generated from a PCR test which is not too dissimilar to an antigen really. 11 Covid tests x 25.5 g = 0.28 kg CO2.

Reams and reams of paper forms were needed in addition to the many completed online.

19 double-sided printed forms @ 2g each = 0.038 kg of CO2.

Carbon Offsetting

Research shows that 6 trees offset 1 tonne of CO2. So 1 Tree = 160 kg CO2. Our family holiday produced 1,660.318 kg of CO2 requiring 10 trees to offset.

What next?

I have certainly learned a lesson with this blog piece, every action has a consequence and all that. I had not seen my Dad for well over two years so a visit really was essential to me and my family. To remedy the impact of our trip, we would need to plant (or fund the planting of) 10 trees. We are family members of the National Trust and they are aiming to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030. I plan to support this with a charity upcycle sometime soon, donating some profits to planting trees, to offset our half-term trip to France.

We will fly again sometime in the future but next time I will ensure my family are a little more aware of the the implications associated with their leisure travel, not to inhibit or spoil their fun, but so they can nurture a carbon neutral mindset.

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