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One Tonne Challenge Report for 2003

Duane Pendergast - December 28, 2004


We decided to undertake Canada's One Tonne Challenge early in 2003. We  went beyond the general challenge to actually monitor our emissions so we could measure our improvements. The monitoring methodology and details of our personal  greenhouse gas emission basis  were   presented on this website on July 25, 2004 along with calculated results for 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Our Emission Reduction Actions

Our house, as built, was fitted with incandescent bulbs presenting many opportunities for improving energy efficiency. We installed 37 fluorescent bulbs as replacements. At the same time, eight remaining high power  incandescent fixtures were fitted with timers and dimmers to reduce their impact.


Our three year emission results are repeated here.

Table 1 Pendergast Family Greenhouse Gas Inventory -Tonnes Carbon Dioxide




Natural Gas



Malibu Dodge 3500



















It is apparent that our electricity use generated  2.1 tonnes more CO2 in 2003 relative to 2002. Our vehicle emissions for 2003 were almost identical to 2002. Our natural gas consumption was down 1 tonne. Our total emissions actually increased by 1.2 tonnes, in spite of our efforts to improve energy efficiency and conservation.

The One Tonne Challenge website requests that Canadians tell what they are doing to reduce emissions. I submitted  a letter via the form there. It is not one of the three posted to date from Canadian homeowners. Perhaps submissions which actually monitor for emission reductions are not appreciated, on the basis it's better not to know how ineffective the program may be.

In summary, in spite of our substantial investment in electricity efficiency and conservation measures, related emissions went up one tonne for each of these two Canadians. What went wrong? Well, while making those improvements, we also installed some upgraded lighting fixtures, some of which were higher wattage. We also purchased two water cooler/heater units which keep cooled and heated water available at the tap full time. I've noticed these are often running whether used or not. Perhaps there are some more additions to appliances I've overlooked.  We did not monitor the weather. Weather variations could  also have a substantial effect on our emissions. Perhaps it is significant that our increased electricity usage is countered by our decreased natural gas use, but we don't really have sufficient data to know.

One Tonne Challenge Commentary

What does our experience tell us about the effectiveness of the  One Tonne Challenge? It suggests that the efforts of any Canadians who actually take up the challenge will be similarly ineffective. Most will not monitor their results and will not even know if they succeeded in reducing emissions. The effectiveness of the overall program will be similarly difficult for Canada to assess. There are  no plans to directly measure results evident. Even if  emission reductions are achieved, they will  be lost in the overall year to year accounting of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.

In closing I note that posted submissions from Canadians taking up the One Tonne Challenge in the home total three to date (04/12/28). One of the letters is from an environmental reporter with the Globe and Mail. A second is from  an Environment Canada employee. The third  is from a principal member of an environmental group.  We know that one more letter (mine) from an individual with a vested interest in climate change was submitted and not been posted. Have any regular Canadians  taken on the One Tonne Challenge in the home? Possibly not.  Four out of several million homeowners seems a modest payback for such a large promotional initiative.

Terence Corcoran of the National Post provided some caustic comment on the One Tonne Challenge program in the Financial Post under the title "A tonne of baloney" on December 9, 2004. Mr. Corcoran deems the One Tonne Challenge a "gigantic waste". Perhaps that is overstating the case. It seems more likely the  "Challenge" will fizzle out while  providing employment  for a few people running the program and  advertising revenue to the television industry.


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