ESG Reporting

What is a ton of CO2?

Sep. 24, 2020


Though naturally present in the atmosphere, CO2 is a gas whose uncontrolled emission has been dangerously increasing through human activities. In an article published in November 2019, the World Meteorological Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, warned of an alarming rise in CO2 concentration. In 2018, carbon dioxide levels hit a new record of 407,8 ppm (parts per million), even if three years earlier, the global limits had already reached the zenith with an overall concentration of 400 ppm.

Slow environmental resorption

Increased emissions are not the sole issue since they are also connected with slow environmental resorption: CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the oceans for even longer. According to the World Meterological Organization's (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, “the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago.” Presumably, this trend will not come to a halt, as Mister Taalas explained: “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline.

In 2020, the per capita CO2 emissions in Germany were approximately 7.7 tons per year. To limit global warming to 2°C, the average level of CO2 emission per capita on our planet must not exceed 2.3 tonnes by 2050. With a current world average of 4.5 tons, we still have a long way to go.

What 1 ton of CO2 corresponds to

  • A ton of CO2 is equal to a ride of more than 4,900 km with a mid-size petrol engine car which corresponds to the route from Berlin to Madrid and back.
  • In order to absorb a ton of CO2, a beech must grow for about 80 years — or 50 trees must grow for one year
  • With a ton CO2, an individual could travel by train, covering the distance of roughly 80.000 km
  • One ton of CO2 corresponds to nearly the volume of an 8-meter-high cube
  • A ton of CO2 is the emission caused by a single person flying from Frankfurt am Main to Lisbon and back

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