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Impact Assessment Metrics: Carbon
Impact Assessment Metrics: Carbon
How do we calculate the real-world equivalency for a company's annual reported emissions?
Written by Heather
Updated over a week ago

A stated amount of carbon often requires context as it is not as simple as other conversions that people do in their minds on a daily basis. Just for fun, here is what a tonne of carbon looks like (remember it is a gas).

YvesBlue expresses a company's annual reported emissions in terms of the number of trees that would need to be planted in order to literally pull those emissions from the air.

According to Ten Million Trees, a mature tree can absorb about 48 lbs of CO2 in one year. In one year, an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car's annual mileage


Step 1: Convert lbs to tonnes

48 lbs per year=0.0217724 tonnes per year

Step 2: Divide

The annual emissions reported by the company in scopes 1, 2, and 3 and divide by the number above

Equation: total_company_reported_carbon_emissions in tonnes of CO2/0.0217724 tonnes per year

Example: 200,000 tonnes of CO2/.0217724=9,185,941 trees that must be planted to
sequester this company's annual emissions

To Note:

There are many different initiatives that claim to be doing reforestation work. However, according to Ecosia, a search engine that plants trees for searches, some basic questions to ask before donating to such programs might be:

  1. Have the trees actually been put in the ground? Are they being monitored or are we dealing with a feel-good, but ultimately unrealistic pledge?

  2. Are local communities equal partners in the project? Do the trees benefit them? Will they take care of the trees?

  3. Are the tree species native to the area, or are they imported and maybe even invasive?

  4. Have they planted a mixed forest or a monoculture?


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