Project CO20

When Dr Alison Cooke attended COP21 in 2015, where the Paris agreement was formed, she made a personal promise to attempt to counter her own carbon footprint, removing as much CO2 from the atmosphere as she produced in her lifetime. It was at this conference that she talked about the role of engineers in strategies against climate change and in enabling national governments to achieve their emissions reduction targets. She therefore felt a personal responsibility to lead by example in combatting the carbon crisis through offsetting her own emissions.

What is CO20?

CO20, which is the short hand representation for net 0 CO2 emissions, is a project lead by Esther Tun. Started in early summer 2021, its goal to coordinate with offical partners in the faciliation of planting a large woodland of trees, somewhere in the UK.

Esther Tun and Dr Cooke worked together to calculate her lifetime's amount of carbon emissions, using data from The World Bank and averaging her annual estimated carbon emissions, with help from the Carbon The method and calculations for working out Alison's lifetime carbon emissions, and your own, are both available on the Carbon Calculation page. The final figure for Alison's lifetime is approximately 695 metric tonnes, which equates to somewhere in the region of 2 hectares of woodland - the reasoning for which is also available on said page. After conversations with The Woodland Trust, it became evident that calculating CO2 sequestration per tree is unrealistic and unreliable, due to the number of different variables involved and the unknown survival rates of trees in the wild. Instead, it is better to work in metre squares or hectares with an assumed density of trees, of which estimates can be calculated as to likely CO2 sequestion. This project is working with a 'stocking density' of approximately 1,100 to 1,600 trees per hectare, which equates to about two football pitches worth of trees for Alison's carbon offsetting.

After coordinating with official parties for professional advice on the most sustainable and environmental way to plant trees in the UK, Dr Cooke finalised on the location of Pertwood Manor Farm, in Wiltshire, for this project. With an aim to plant a blend of white elms and mixed native trees. Future climate scenarios were run on the Ecological Site Classification tool (ESC) and a list of recommended species have been given for that site. These species include: Red Cedar, Norway Maple, Sycamore, Beech, Hornbeam, Italian Alder, Rowan, Wild Service Tree, and Walnut. In terms of tree provenances, The prodject would be looking to source seed from a more southerly provenance so they will cope with our warming climate. We would like to give thanks to Wessex Woodland, the tree contractor on board, and Strutton Parker, our national land agent, without whom this project would not have been possible.

Dr Alison Cooke and Rolalind Smith met on the farm on the 26th October 2021 to plant the symbolic first tree, with plans to complete the planting proecess before the end of the year.

As a great asset to the public engagement element of this project, since the more people inspired by this story the better, BBC Look East interviewed Alison at her home in Cambridge on the 25th of Octover 2021. BBC radio Cambridgeshire and BBC radio Whiltshire also recorded live interviews with Dr Cooke on the 25th and 26th of October 2021.

How can you join Dr Cooke in the fight against climate change?

Understanding the impact of your life on carbon emissions is a great start. Use to work out your yearly emissions.

For more information and help calculating your lifetime's carbon footprint, go to Carbon Calculation

There are many avenues to make donations, of any size, towards tree planting schemes in the UK, such as through The Woodland Trust, The National Trust and Green Energy Consulting.

If you too would like to plant a woodland of trees to offset your carbon emissions, The Woodland Trust has many different schemes that can accomodate and financially support you. They offer schemes for businesses and individuals, as well as help with asscertaining the appropriateness of areas of land.

Fundrasing projects can also be hugely helpful to build up larger donations, which can also be arranged through the previously mentioned sites.

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Additional Information

Usefull websites:

Carbon Footprint

The Woodland Trust

The World Bank

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  • Tel: 07522637269