Copenhagen's Gargantuan Carbon Footprint? It's Up in Smoke


Graph from Power & Energy.

OK, it's a lot of carbon. 41,000 tons of carbon equivalent is estimated to be Copenhagen's big footprint after the COP-15 two weeks of talks. See that small, insignificant seeming white dot carved into the big black moon? That's what it would be if we all weren't in Copenhagen. Yet while 41,000 tons sounds ginormous, and it is, the Danes had long planned to offset an eventual 100,000 tons of carbon, setting aside nearly a million Euros. And how will they do it? Via Bangladeshi brick ovens.

The Danish Energy Agency has forged a partnership with Bangladesh to replace 20 outdated brink kilns in Dhaka with 20 new, more energy efficient ones. Amazingly, this will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 100,000 tonnes (tons) annually, as well as reduce particulate emissions in the country's capital area. Dhaka has a population of 12 million, and around 1,200 kilns (as many as 4,000 chimneys) operate in the region, so the effect on air quality may not be very noticeable.

Who knew brick making was so dirty?
The brick making industry is the livelihood for around one million Bangladeshis, according to a World Bank report. In Bangladesh, 15 million bricks are made each year, and the main sources of fuel to fire the kilns is coal and wood. That's 8.75 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The new more energy efficient kilns will be insulated to preserve heat, and will use waste heat to dry "green" bricks.

Which makes Denmark's offset of 100,000 tons a drop - though a nice big drop - in the bucket. Similarly, that's probably how we should view Copenhagen's carbon footprint overall. If it gets a deal that will forge a million Denmark-Bangladesh collaborations, it's worth that big drop in the greenhouse gas bucket.

Note: Photo of a Dhaka brick kilm via naquib @ flickr.

Read more about Copenhagen carbon offsets at TreeHugger:
For Design to Create Change, We Must All Become Designers
Forget National Emission Reduction Targets, How About Personal Ones?
Here's Why Strong Carbon Emission Reductions Could Bring Great Economic Gains

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