Tonnes of carbon produced by the personal transportation of a ‘professional artist’

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact


Harrison first compiled the ‘Carbon Graph’ over the course of a month (in April and May 2019) while she was writing her book by calculating the distance of all 3,628 journeys she made in motorised vehicles since registering as a self-employed ‘professional artist’ in 2004 (journeys on foot or by bike were excluded as they have zero carbon footprint).

The graph was then updated in July 2020 to show the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on her carbon footprint for transport, and exhibited on two billboard sites in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Art Festival (30 July – 30 August 2020). As of 30 July 2020, she had made 3,988 journeys in motorised vehicles over the last 17 years.

To identify these journeys, Harrison reviewed all her records of ‘travel expenses’ in parallel with old diaries and photographs, and then used the websites below to calculate the distance in kilometres of each:

Rail Miles Engine for all UK train journeys
Google Maps for all international train journeys, bus, car and all other land and sea transport
MapCrow Distance Calculator between Cities for all plane journeys.
Harrison then multiplied the total annual distance for each transportation mode (Table 1) by the most up-to-date Conversion Factors (Table 2), issued by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in July 2018. The kg CO2e (kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent) Conversion Factors take into account the impact of the seven main greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, as defined by the Kyoto Protocol. The greenhouse gases are:

carbon dioxide (CO2)
methane (CH4)
nitrous oxide (N2O)
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS)
perfluorocarbons (PFCS)
sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2020


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