Ellie Harrison, Tonnes of carbon produced by the personal transportation of a ‘professional artist’, 2020
Artist and activist, Ellie Harrison (2012 and 2014 festival programmes), divulges details of her carbon footprint for transport. Created through the meticulous analysis of the 3,988 journeys she has made over the last 17 years, Harrison’s graph makes connections between literal and social mobility and highlights the consequences of our travel choices for our climate, which have become increasingly apparent in all our lives during lockdown.
Harrison's artwork can be found at poster sites at Meadowbank and Calton Road.
I first compiled this graph in April – May 2019, while I was writing my book The Glasgow Effect: A Tale of Class, Capitalism & Carbon Footprint, inspired by my ‘controversial’ 2016 project The Glasgow Effect. For that one year I vowed not to leave Glasgow’s city limits, or use any vehicles except my bike. The project was motivated by a sense that I was travelling far too much and that, as I got older and more ‘successful’, my lifestyle was becoming increasingly unsustainable. The graph aimed to visualise the dramatic impact the project had on slashing my carbon footprint for transport to zero.
On 23 March 2020, as a result the coronavirus pandemic, UK-wide lockdown began. We were all issued government orders similar to those I had followed in 2016 – to ‘stay local’, make essential journeys only and not travel more than 5 miles from home whilst exercising or sourcing supplies. Having been through the meticulous process of compiling the graph just one year earlier, I was instantly aware of the impact this new regime would have on my own (and others) carbon footprint. And so I decided to update the graph for 2019 and 2020 (up to 30 July) to demonstrate this.
It’s clear that the coronavirus lockdown has caused massive social and economic damage, alongside evident environmental benefits. I’m therefore interested in what action we must take to re-build our cities, society and economic system so that we can all enjoy travelling less and can live happy, healthy and creative lives, within a short walk from our front doors. It is this ‘Sustainable City of the Future’ which I aim to sketch out in my book.
You can read more about the workings behind the graph, and learn how to calculate your own carbon footprint for transport on my website: ellieharrison.com/carbongraph Ellie Harrison
Image: Ellie Harrison, Timelines (2006), installed at HKW, Berlin as part of Transmediale in 2015. Photo credit: Paco Neumann.
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