Average American Family Emits Over Four Hot Air Balloon Volumes of CO2 per Year

The UN Emissions Gap Report shows that global emissions have reached another record high level of 53.5 billion tons of CO2 equivalent. Only 57 countries (representing 60 percent of global emissions) are on track to reach a peak in emissions by 2030.

The Paris Agreement had the goal of keeping World temperatures at less than 2-degree celsius above pre-industrial levels. Nations would have to triple overall climate actions to keep below the 2-degree increase and must quintuple the overall climate actions to keep below the 1.5-degree increase level.

A continuation of current trends will likely result in global warming of around 3°C by 2100 with continued temperature rises beyond 2100.

If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 percent by 2030. Setting the right carbon price is also essential. At US $70 per ton of CO2, emission reductions of up to 40 percent are possible in some countries. The 2017 CO2 equivalent emissions would be valued at $3.7 trillion.

The 2017 emissions were an increase of 700 million tons of CO2 equivalent compared with 2016. In contrast, global GHG emissions in 2030 need to be approximately 25 percent and 55 percent lower than in 2017 to put the world on a least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to 2oC and 1.5oC respectively.

How Much is a ton of CO2?

If a round balloon 10 yards (30 feet) in diameter were filled with CO2 then it would weigh about 1 ton. This is about 14000 cubic feet. The average hot air balloon is 80 feet tall, 50 feet in diameter. It can lift four people. It has an air capabity of 77,000 cubic feet, or approximately 77,000 basketballs. The average hot air balloon volume would hold about 5 tons of CO2.

An average US family emitted about 22 tons of CO2 in 2017. This is about four and half of the standard hot air balloons full of CO2.

If the US Went to Zero Emissions That Would Be Three Years of the Global 2 Degree Path

So instead of increasing by 700 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year, the world would need to shift to decreasing by about 1.4 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year. This would be 2.1 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year shift. This is for the 2-degree target.

If the US shouldered all of the World’s required CO2 reduction, then the US would have to go to zero emissions in about 3 years and it would be the next countries turn.

Making All Cars, Trucks and Buses Electric by 2030

If all cars, trucks and buses in the world were electric by 2030, then this would put the world close to the 2-degree target. This would mean changing the 1.5 billion existing cars and trucks and all of 100 million new cars and trucks every year to electric or zero emission.

How Would the Cuts be Made?

Below are a couple of charts looking at US emissions. There is video from David MacKay that looks at renewables and energy efficiency.

Some Videos Discussing Energy and Solving Climate

Categories of Emissions Mitigation


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