What exactly is 1 tonne of CO2?
What exactly is 1 tonne of CO2?

What exactly is 1 tonne of CO2?

What exactly is 1 tonne of CO2?

You probably have a clear idea of what 1 meter, 1 kg or 1 minute entails, but what is 1 tonne of CO2?

CO2 is an invisible gas and is one of the ten primary greenhouse gases (GHG) that causes global warming. Other well-known greenhouse gasses are water vapour (H2O), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). As these gasses tend to be invisible, and therefore, we have only have a vague idea about them. But what does one tonne of CO2 actually represent, and how can we conceptualise it in a way that is meaningful and relatable?

New York (surface area of around 783 km²) covered by 106,849,315 tons of CO2 illustrated by Carbon Visuals

1 tonne of CO2 looks like...

  • A cube of 8.2m by 8.2m by 8.2m

  • A 500m3 hot air balloon

  • 18,380 crates of beer

  • 551,368 1 liter bottles of water

1 tonne of CO2 is emitted by...

  • 1.5 return flights from Berlin to Rome

  • 26 cotton T-Shirts

  • 36 return trips from Amsterdam to London by Train

  • 138 meat-based meals

  • 1,961 vegetarian meals

The environmental consequences of 1 tonne of CO2...

  • 3m2 of Arctic summer sea ice disappears [2]
  • €180,- of damages (e.g., crop loss) [3]
  • 1 tree must live for 100 years [1]


Even though it’s important to note that these are rough estimates, and the actual emissions or sequestration of CO2 can vary depending on various factors, we have one clear takeaway. 1 tonne of CO2 is a significant amount of emissions, and reducing our carbon footprint can make a significant impact on the environment and our efforts to address climate change. Whether it’s driving a fuel-efficient car, using public transportation, or planting trees, every little bit counts. 

However, it can be daunting to start your sustainable journey. Question like “what do I currently emit?" and “how can I reduce my emissions effectively?" pop up. That’s totally understandable, we had the same issues.

With our Holocene-framework, we can provide you with understandable, data-driven insights into your footprint, and give guidelines on how you can reduce your carbon footprint effectively. Curious how it works? Book a free meeting with one of our sustainability experts to discuss how you can become truly sustainable!