Carbon Cost of Christmas

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Simon Wareing
December 26, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Simon Wareing
December 26, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Saturday, December 22, 2007


>linkFrom: [COLOR=#009900]New Economics Foundation>link
A time of peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind, Christmas has also become a frenzy of mass consumption. And, as new calculations from the new economics foundation reveal, our obsession with high-tech energy guzzling gadgets threatens both to derail attempts to cut emissions, and erode our well-being.
The carbon cost of Christmas.

But, nef researchers say, low carbon highs hold the key to reducing emissions and creating real festive cheer. Having calculated some of the carbon cost of Christmas, researchers at nef, an award winning independent ‘think-and-do’ tank have devised a climate friendly Christmas that also increases people’s well-being.
Market analysts estimate that around 60 percent of annual turnover in UK retailing happens during the Christmas period. In its briefing – The Carbon Cost of Christmas – the think tank exposes some of the biggest seasonal ‘no no’s this Christmas, followed by some big Christmas ‘yes, yeses.’
For example, this year, Christmas sparkle comes all the way from China:
* Well over eight out of ten Christmas decorations we import this year will come from China – in all a record 66,500 tonnes. Things produced in China generally pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, because China’s energy mix contains much more carbon. But even that excludes the carbon cost of shipping them half the way around the world to the UK.
And just two of the gadgets topping Christmas wish lists this year reveal the increasing carbon cost of our obsession with high tech just at the point at which we should be reducing emissions:
* Energy consumed by Nintendo Wii games consols in the UK for the year up to Christmas is estimated to generate the equivalent in greenhouse gases of 180,000 single flights from the UK to New York The CO2e emissions produced by each consol– just one household electrical device – using its Wiiconnect24 stand-by facility, assuming a modest 14 hours playing per week, over the course of a year is greater than, or equal to, the total annual carbon dioxide emissions per person in countries such as Burundi or Chad.
* If just one household in every 25 in the UK buys a new Digital Photo Frame it will lead to a rise in annual CO2e emissions of 11,000 tonnes – the equivalent of over 14,000 air passenger journeys from London to New York[ii]
“Everyone sets out to have a good time at Christmas, but invariably people end up broke, arguing and disappointed as they stumble towards the New Year. We wanted to find out how we could avoid our over-flowing festive generosity being expressed as the mindless consumption of energy-intensive products.” says Andrew Simms policy director at nef and head of the climate change programme, “Because this, in turn, leads to rivers and seas overflowing their banks and coastlines due to global warming – not a nice Christmas present for anyone. A better gift is greater well-being, but this means breaking bad habits and learning some good, new skills.”
Instead, nef has set out a ten point plan for low carbon highs this Christmas. The think tank’s suggestions include:
* Switch of the TV. To really feel good and save the climate, read a library book. It’s the least energy intensive (and most satisfying) activity. Considering the embodied energy, reading a library book uses around one quarter of the energy used while watching TV.
* Give the gift of time. Forget about the expression “time is money”, time is time – and that’s far more precious. Rather than ‘stuff’ they probably won’t want, present friends and family with a time pledge and add ‘time’ to your own Christmas wish list? A small certificate committing you to spending some time with them or on their behalf. You could help them learn a language, or fix their bicycle. Time is the basic currency on which relationships and communities are based. If you like the idea of using your time as a currency, check out your local Time Bank
As nef’s ten point plan shows, low carbon highs don’t have to be just for Christmas, they can last the whole year.
[COLOR=#009900]The carbon cost of Christmas, and how to beat it>link (PDF doc)
Calculation by nef’s Climate Change Programme
[ii] Calculation by nef’s Climate Change Programme
[COLOR=#000099]Learn more below:
Link: [COLOR=#009900]The UK’s “China-Dependence”>link – ukwatch
[COLOR=#009900]Eat, Drink and be Miserable>link – ukwatch
Link: [COLOR=#009900]Global warming will push Asia into reverse, as UK leadership fades>link – ukwatch
Author of article: New Economics Foundation
Home page of link:
[COLOR=#009900]New Economics Foundation>link via link
link– read the full article
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May 9, 2008 at 4:13 am

If just one household in every 25 in the UK buys a new Digital Photo Frame it will lead to a rise in annual CO2e emissions of 11,000 tonnes – the equivalent of over 14,000 air passenger journeys from London to New York[ii]

Oh holy cow. Those different stats really got me to thinking. People need to learn about all this stuff!
May 31, 2008 at 12:19 pm

ummm…. Ok, I agree with you. But I still have another opinion about it.[/size]link link link[/size]

June 6, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Egads, maybe we need to just donate what money we’d have spent to green organizations instead to help combat all these issues.

I’m all for less commercialism and simpler times at the holidays anyway but won’t start on that particular rant! 🙂 I wouldn’t miss the shopping.

June 12, 2008 at 4:51 am

What, did the Grinch write that article? Sorry. Bad joke. It’s time we understood what a toll on the environment all our different activities create.
We have collected so many ornaments over the years, we have more than could ever fit on a tree; I think I’ll be sending a few to the kids and their families. I’m sure there are some that the kids will recognise, and they can tell their kids. Hey Presto, another Christmas tradition! We’ll send boxes for the grandkids to open; they range in age from three months to four years and that’s Santa Claus age as far as I’m concerned. The kids and other members of the family will get gift cards; not alot of a cost to send, and then they can take them and get what they want=one car journey. I’m getting into the Christmas spirit already, God help me!:eek:

June 12, 2008 at 10:12 am

lol.. you are worrying me now Molly…

apart from the kids under ten, everybody else gets gift cards for their favourite shop. Most of the decorations on my tree are handed down from my mothers tree… or hand/home made by various nephews and neices, and by me in my yoof..

I have used led lights for the last 3 years now and they use much less power than the ordinary ones…

everyone can reduce the carbon cost of christmas, really easily with just a little thought…

June 12, 2008 at 10:47 pm

I never seen these kinds of numbers. That does really make you stop and think. I think it was on here where there was some great green alternatives you could give people as gifts for Christmas. I really think I am going to try to go that route.

June 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I can understand shopping Green for Christmas or even shopping early for Christmas. What I can’t agree with is the commercialization of Christmas! I half expect to see advertisements by the end of this month for Christmas. I know what we can do this year! Why don’t we all give the world a gift and stop buying oil.

June 19, 2008 at 5:30 pm

I was thinking about this before in regards to LED lights finally enjoying some popular support. Christmas is such a big example of how cavalier we all are regarding consumerism and its effects on the environment. These are great points to keep in mind this December.

June 20, 2008 at 9:46 am

agreed rfl.. perhaps one of us should revive this thread closer to the time, as a reminder…

June 21, 2008 at 2:20 am

Absolutely. I hope that Christmas type discussions come up again in November or December so we can try to care more and not just have it in the back of our minds.

June 21, 2008 at 4:55 am

The best thing I did this past holiday season was get a subscription to an ecard service. I sent out all my holiday cards this way. Saved a lot on postage, not to mention the environmental impact of not having all those cards end up at the landfill.
We also make many of our gifts that we give to family.

June 22, 2008 at 11:37 pm

RFL1986, we should actually carry the Christmas spirit with us all year long, not just in November and December. If the human race could carry the Christmas spirit throughout the year in their heart, can you imagine what kind of world we would live in?:o

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