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BW Businessworld

Barack Obama’s Smoky Visit

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President Obama discussed a joint initiative with India on clean energy during his trip. But the environmental impact of his trip was rather high — two Air Force One planes, six cars including the fuel-guzzling armoured Cadillac and more. Estimates show the carbon footprint of his visit equals what over 12,000 Indians would emit in a year.

International Travel
12,032.48a tonne of CO2

Travel Within India
601.96b tonne

Military Cargo Planes
2,880c tonne

Local Travel
120d tonne

1,350e tonne

16,984.44 tonne


  • What a power plant in India, producing 1 MW/hour, emits in 843 days (1 MW produced in one hour emits 0.84 tonne CO2)
  • What an average car, such as a Maruti Alto, would emit running 8.49 million km (one car emits 0.02 tonne CO2 per 100 km it travels) 
  • What 5,308 Washington-Mumbai round trips would emit (A one-way Washington-Mumbai trip emits 1.6 tonne CO2)
  • What 12,132 people living in India emit in one year (CO2 emission per capita in India is 1.4 tonne)
  • What 1,698,444 people in Somalia would emit in one year (Somalia's per capita CO2 emission is
    0.01 tonne) 
  • What 900 people in America would emit in one year  (The US emits 18.9 tonne CO2 per capita)
  • What 307 people in Qatar would emit in one year (Qatar's per capita CO2 emission is 55.4 tonne)

    Data assumes 3,000 delegates accompanied Obama. Conservative estimates. aAssuming travel by two Airforce Ones (Boeing 747), other average planes by business class. Carbon Positive online calculator: one way business class trip from Washington to Mumbai emits 1.57 tonne of CO2. bAccording to PE-International India (gives sustainability solutions, helps track carbon footprint). cAssuming two cargo planes came with Air Force One. National one cargo plane emits 0.045 tonne of CO2/mile. dAssuming each delegate travelled 200 km by an average petrol car. PE-International India: average petrol car emits 0.0002 tonne of CO2/km. eFor two days at Taj Mumbai, one day at ITC Delhi: calculated by PE-International India. Accepted constants by PE-International India used. Assuming constant yearly per capita emission levels
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-11-2010)