The Science Part

How do we work out the cost of donations?

The carbon costs for travel when making a donation to Energy Revolution are worked out based on several factors:

  • Miles travelled (for those events using the carbon calculator)
  • Type of vehicle
  • Kg of C02e (Carbon Dioxide equivalent) per mile travelled
  • The cost of carbon avoidance.

An average round trip to a UK summer festival is 150 miles (Julies Bicycle benchmark). At 0.4 KgC02e per mile for an average car, that works out at a total of 60KgC02e per festival trip. If we multiply this by the costs of carbon avoidance at £50/tonne, we arrive at £3 donation.

Where do the figures come from?

  1. Miles travelled: The donation is either based on an average 150 mile round trip to a UK summer greenfield festival (provided by Julies Bicycle – see references below) or the real journey length worked out by using the Energy Revolution carbon calculator. The calculator uses Googlemaps to work out an accurate journey length based on two postcodes, and includes the actual vehicle type to increase accuracy.
  1. KgC02 per mile of travel: This is based on the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Company carbon reporting guidelines 2014
  1. Cost per tonne of carbon: Arriving at a cost per tonne of carbon is very complicated, and the subject of much debate and multiple approaches. The cost for the Energy Revolution initiative has been set at £50 per tonne, above the market rate for carbon offsetting, and below many assessments of the social or real costs of moving toward a sustainable level of emissions.

The cost of carbon

There are many approaches which can be taken to apply a ‘cost’ to a tonne of carbon ‘emitted’, ‘avoided’, or ‘offset’. For example we could choose:

  • The actual cost of avoiding a tonne of carbon with the project we are working with
  • The international Gold Standard market price for a carbon offset
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency figures for the real social costs of carbon, derived from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Various cost estimates based on the actual economic damage of each tonne of carbon emitted based on the future economic and social impacts.
  • The costs of managing a global transition to fossil free economy.
  • National, European or global costs per tonne of carbon avoided with specific reference to technologies

It is a complex area of research and policy. In order to make a sensible decision for this project, we have taken a number of established figures and taken a judgement. We believe that the market rate for carbon offsetting does not take into account the real and far reaching social and environmental impact of emissions today, for which the financial tab will be picked up by future generations.

Reference Table: Cost of C02/tonne (various methods)

Publication or organisation of origin. £ per tonne of carbon
Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) 74
Renewble Obligation, University of Central London (UCL) 68
Gold Standard Verified – various 10- 30
Defra Evidence and Analysis Series* 30
International Renewable Energy Agency 54


Marginal abatement cost curves for policy making – expert-based vs. model-derived curves* Fabian Kesicki UCL Energy Institute 2011

Royal Academy of Engineering, evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, House of Lords: Science and Technology Committee, 4th Report of Session 2003-04. Renewable Energy Practicalities (TSO: London, 15 July 2004), Vol. II, Evidence, p. 322.

Defra Evidence and Analysis Series. The Social Cost of Carbon and the Shadow Price of Carbon What they are, and how to use them in economic appraisal in the UK Richard Price, Simeon Thornton and Stephen Nelson December 2007.

 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeCore Writing Team, Pachauri, R.K. and Reisinger, A. (Eds.) IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 2007

Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis, Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, United States Government, May 2013