A Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Ecological Footprint Analysis of Metro Vancouver Residents’ Air Travel

  •  Ruth Legg    
  •  Jennie Moore    
  •  Meidad Kissinger    
  •  William Rees    


Ecological Footprint Analysis (EFA) at the city or regional scale does not typically include air travel due to a lack of readily available data. However, knowing the “load” placed on nature by various lifestyle choices, including air travel, is essential if we hope to enable society to live sustainably within ecological limits. This paper provides methods for including air travel in urban EFA, in a manner that is accessible to those that are interested in the complexities of urban sustainability. Our goal is to use the case of the Vancouver Metropolitan region to illustrate two methods in such a way that they can be replicated or adapted for use in other cities and regions. We found that the greenhouse gas emissions of air travel by Metro Vancouver residents for 2006 is between 1,191,070 and 1,402,420 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The resulting ecological footprint is between 287,030 and 337,980 global hectares (gha), or between 0.136 and 0.160 gha/capita. The dedicated carbon sink required to neutralize the carbon dioxide emissions from Metro Vancouver residents’ air travel alone is equivalent to twice the land area of the region (283,183 hectares).

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