2024 06 05 – Carbon footprint of a sailboat Antarctic expedition

In a former post, we disclosed  the fuel consumption for SV Sonabia 2 in comparison with passenger ships.

the difference is stunning: 64 g of diesel fuel per person and nautical mile * on Sonabia 2 vs. 320 g on a passenger ship, in the best case.

*: 1 nautical mile = 1.852 km

In this post, we compute the complete carbon footprint of an Antarctic expedition on SV Sonabia 2.

3 weeks expedition

Carbon footprint per person on a 3 weeks trip Ushuaia-Antarctic-Ushuaia,

255 kg of CO2 per person

diesel fuel consumption per person: 93kg, footprint 248.7 kg of CO2. 
1 kg of diesel produces 2.68kg of CO2 equivalent.

propane gas for cooking per person: 2kg, footprint 6kg of CO2.
1 kg of propane produces 3kg of pure CO2.

TOTAL 255kg of CO2 per person

food and other personal supplies are not counted (would be the same if you stay aground).

the transportation of fuel and gas to Ushuaia is not counted.

measured on the 2 Antarctic expeditions of season 2023-2024.

Air travel

Air travel to and from Ushuaia considering 3 European destinations: Madrid, Paris, London

1347 to 1580 kg of CO2 per person

Madrid: 12.427 km, 1347 kg of CO2 (Madrid-Buenos Aires-Ushuaia)

Paris: 13.440km, 1437 kg of CO2 (Paris-Buenos Aires-Ushuaia)

Londres: 13.669km, 1580 kg of CO2 (London-Madrid-Buenos Aires-Ushuaia)

source: ICAO carbon emission calculator. 

Round trip, tourist class.

Total carbon footprint

FIRST CASE: backpackers and travelers: you are already in Ushuaia.

255 kg of CO2 per person

Second case: air travel from Madrid / Paris / London

1602 / 1692 / 1835 kg of CO2 per person

Comparison with a passenger ship

The air travel is the same, but there is a marked difference on the sailing expedition itself

The minimal carbon footprint for a typical trip on a passenger ship is:

857 kg CO2 per person

We consider a 1500 nautical miles trip (2778 km), a fuel comsumption of  320g per person and nautical mile (optimistic) and that the ship only uses light diesel fuel (very optimistic: many ships still use heavy fuel oil, which is more polluting).

What if you stay at home?

According to your diet, the carbon footprint of your food for a full year is:

between 1500 kg and 3300 kg CO2 per person

Estimates for the USA. 

Source: Afrouzi et al. (2003), Result in Engineering Vol 18. 

Warning.  the carbon footprint estimates of the aliments are culturally biased: they only consider the industrial food available in the USA: meat,vegetables, etc.