Carbon Footprint

The figures for emissions below refer to Kilograms of Carbon Dioxide - strictly speaking they are kg of Carbon Dioxide equivalent. Some green house gasses have a greater or lesser effect than CO2, and these figures take this into account (eg Methane has an effect 21 times greater than CO2). The usual way of showing this is "kg CO2e".

All figures are derived from the UK Government's emissions statistics which used to be available at: Sadly they are no longer available and we can't find where they may have hidden them!

Carbon Emissions for fuel types

These are some figures for Carbon emitted when you burn the following fuels:


  • 1kg of coal burned = 2.41kg CO2

Gas Bottles (Butane, Propane)

You can work out how much gas you use by looking at your gas bottles - they'll be labelled with the weight of gas they hold when full.

  • Butane: 1kg = 1.74kg CO2
  • Propane: 1kg = 1.95kg CO2

Wood and Charcoal

  • from local, sustainable source: pretty much zero :-)

(The net carbon emissions from wood and local charcoal is near zero because a) it would rot and release carbon anyway; and b) we'd hopefully be buying wood or charcoal from managed woodland so that new trees are grown to replace the ones we've been burning).

  • if you buy charcoal at your DIY store or somewhere then the chances are it comes from Tasmanian rainforest or somewhere equally drastic - don't know what the carbon emissions would be, but pretty awful!


  • Diesel: 1litre = 2.68kg CO2
  • Diesel: 1 gallon = 12.18kg CO2


  • Petrol: 1 litre = 2.31kg CO2
  • Petrol: 1 gallon = 10.5kg CO2

Biodiesel and Straight Vegetable OIl

If you buy biodiesel it may be made from Palm oil, often grown on recently deforested rainforest or peatlands in the far east. It may well emit between 2 to 8 times more CO2 than using dino-diesel! (Figures from BiofuelWatch).

See the Bio-fuels page for more information on finding and making biodiesel from waste oil. The figures below are approximate - CO2 emissions can vary dramatically depending on how you make your bio-diesel - methanol and ethanol (needed during the production of biodiesel) can be made from plant materials (ie pretty much carbon neutral), but if you buy it in then it's likely to be made from fossil fuels.

If you use straight vegetable oil in your engine then make sure you're not trashing your engine! A new engine isn't very earth friendly!

  • Biodiesel made locally from waste oil: 1 litre = 0.6 to 1 kg CO2
  • Biodiesel made locally from waste oil and with ethanol distilled from plant materials locally: 1 litre = 0kg CO2 :-)
  • Used vegetable oil: 1litre = 0kg CO2 :-)

More details for people making biodiesel and wondering what the impact is:

  • Methanol made from natural gas: 1 litre = 4.6kg CO2
  • Methanol made from coal: 1 litre = 9kg CO2
  • Methanol / Ethanol made from vegetable sources: 1 litre = 0kg CO2 :-)

Solar Panels

Solar panels cause CO2 emissions during their production - it works out to be about 3.2kg per watt. They'll save that much CO2 over about 10years (not including transport and disposal). See the Solar Panels page for more details.

Electricity from the grid

Some of us have landlinks for electricity, and most of us make use of things like washing machines at friends' houses or launderettes. So what is a kWh worth?

  • Electricity from the national grid: 1 kWh = 0.5kg CO2

Building your boat

Most carbon footprint calculators include a value for your house. If you want to work out how much CO2 your boat caused when it was being built then you'll need to find out first how heavy it is!

  • Steel: manufacturing 1 tonne of steel = 1750kg CO2

This is just for making the steel - more energy will have been used when cutting, folding and welding it into a narrowboat shape.


Thanks for listing the

Thanks for listing the valuable data in one place!

I suggest making the data more stronger by mentioning references or sources of data.

Once again thanks for compiling and sharing the data.

carbon footprint

So pleased to find your site. I have been hunting for somewhere that gives details of carbon equivalents for cooking fuels while travelling but most sites seem to expect me to live in a house!


I'm just wondering if anyone else has had the same problem with the sustainability question as myself, that is, however sustainable I may be on my boat, that doesnt make the canal system on which the boat and my lifestyle depends any more sustainable. The system was dug using more or less slave labour, a bad start, and costs a huge amount of carbon to maintain per km. BW are not renowned for their efficiency with resources either. Canals dont seem to add alot to biodiversity and the whole canal environment could not be called healthy. Moving about takes alot of carbon too and prevents other earth restoration activity happening on the part of the navigator. Canals and sustainability? just a romantic idea perhaps. Has anyone got a way round this?