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How are carbon emissions measured?

We hear arguments of both sides and the majority of us point blindly as to which stance we take on the issue, but we often forget to question how we got from point A to point B.

Let’s get back to basics and understand the facts…

Whether you enjoy being taxed or don’t, whether you believe our carbon footprint is substantially damaging or not, and whether you feel this approach will make a difference or not, the fact is that the BIG people up there do. And carbon emissions whether we believe it to be harmful or not are dispersed into our air.

So how do we measure an invisible gas more commonly known as carbon emissions and at what point do we determine such emissions as potentially harmful?

In essence, emissions are measured by the amount of CO2 that has been released by factory smoke stacks. The methodology behind it is a simple matter of gas weight! As an invisible gas, this becomes rather tedious, and quite frankly hard. Sure they can measure the concentration in the air, but the easiest method is based on the estimation of fuel usage by determining the amount of fossil fuel burned, which is then translated to pounds of CO2.

I do hope that clicked…?

Estimation…invisible gas…rather convenient don’t you think.

We’re trusting the government with the measurement of an invisible gas that determines the level of taxation…really..!

So how do you know when your carbon footprint is too large…

The image below as taken from the Clean Energy Future site, shows a flow chart to determine possible carbon price liability in relation to activities such as;

  • Burning fossil fuels (i.e. electricity generation or in transportation)
  • Cement or steel making (releasing industrial process emissions)
  • Coal and LNG mining (releasing greenhouse gases that are trapped underground)
  • Waste management.

The AU Government site Clean Energy Future outlines the process of measuring carbon emissions that allows businesses to choose 1 of 4 methods that relate closest to the CO2 emissions they are responsible for. Businesses are to report their measure of emissions to the Clean Energy Regulator based on these methods, which then determine the tax they pay.

Want to know more? The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) system highlights complete methods for estimating CO2 emissions.