- CO2 on the way to school

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face today. A first step towards tackling the problem is to understand exactly what the challenge is and the difference people can make.

The average amount of CO2 emitted per person for a typical country in Europe is around 7 tons – or 7000 kilograms. However, the average emission per country varies, and especially developing countries, have much lower carbon emissions per person than an average person in Europe. Across the world, over a billion young people and teachers travel to school each day. A large proportion of those will emit some CO2 on their way to school.

CO2 emissions from the school way is likely to be a small part of a person's total CO2 emission budget. However, knowing the magnitude of this emission level might help young people to grasp how much 7 tons of CO2 is, and thus give them a reference point for putting the problem of CO2 emissions into perspective.

In most European countries transport is somewhere between 20 and 25% of a carbon footprint. Transport to school is part of that 20-25%, and the rest is made up of travel to and from work, shopping and holidays. A result showing that CO2 emissions from travel to school is relatively low doesn’t mean we should forget about it or think that it doesn’t matter, but it does mean that when you discuss transport to school with your head teacher and local decisions makers, you should also ask questions about other parts of the carbon footprint and address the bigger context of climate gas emissions in general.