The emissions of electricity

November 24, 2015

How much CO2 is produced per kilowatt-hour of power I use?

It’s easy to not think of greenhouse gas emissions when we turn on lights, televisions or heaters. But power generation produces 25% of global emissions, more than any other sector.

So just how much CO2 is produced for each kilowatt-hour (KWH) we consume?

The answer is: it depends on where you live, because power is generated differently in each province. In Canada, the ‘greenest’ power is in Quebec – just three grams CO2 per KWH – because that province is so rich in hydroelectric resources. (Hence Quebec’s big push toward electric vehicles.) Manitoba is close behind, with just four g/KWH. Then come BC (17 g) and NL (21 g).

At the other end of the spectrum are Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, with 820, 770 and 740 g/KWH respectively. All three are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, particularly coal, for their power. Next highest are NWT & Nunavut (340 g) and NB (300 g). You can view the full list here. (Sorry, I haven’t found a simple table comparing US states, but you can find any state’s number by clicking on the state from this page and then opening Table 7. The US average is 1175 lb CO2/megawatt hour.)

The bottom line: most of us don’t think of emissions when we use power. But knowing the emissions that arise from our use of electricity can help raise our consciousness, and that’s a first step toward reducing our consumption. As Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing!

Wear a green ribbon this November

This month’s UN climate conference in Paris is bursting with hope, possibility and expectation. Most of us will be watching from afar, holding our breath and feeling like there’s not much we can do to make a difference.

But here’s something anyone can do to show support for climate action: just wear a green ribbon. It’s a simple, meaningful gesture, and it’s far more important than you might think because, through our action, we’ll be showing our leaders they can count on our support to set and achieve strong emissions reduction targets.

So why nGreen Ribbonot wear a ribbon, and even start a campaign in your school or workplace? It’s simple and inexpensive, and everything you need – including inspirational videos – can be found here.