The 2009 presidential inauguration is a historical event that promises an unprecedented turn out – not only is Barack Obama the first African-American to take charge of the White House, he also aspires to be the greenest president in American history…but just how green with this eco-Presidential inauguration be?
We’ll probably never know the exact number attending Obama’s inauguration. The largest recorded turnout was Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration in 1963 with 1.2 million in attendance, but the Park Service stopped official head counts in 1995. Most officials are estimating a similar turnout for January 20, 2009 – but there have been rumors of as many as 4 to 5 million showing up for the event.
Whether it’s 1.5 million, 3.5 million, or 6 million – that’s a lot of people traveling to DC from around the world…and travel usually always means carbon…
So how much CO2 should we expect from Inauguration ’09?
Aside from Obama’s new gas guzzling limo (pictured above) and the transportation of fine California wines especially for the inauguration luncheon – what type of environmental impact will so many people all traveling to and around Washington have?
- Over 25 million pounds from private jets,
- More than 260 million pounds of CO2 from personal vehicles driving to and from the inauguration,
- 5 million pounds from the completely booked DC area hotels,
- Nearly 3 million pounds from the Metro rail – which is expected to not meet the transportation demands for the event,
- Another million pounds of CO2 from alternative ways of getting around – taxis, buses, private cars, etc.
This not-so-eco presidential inauguration will require some major offsetting if Obama plans to live up to his green expectations!
The Institute for Liberty report mentions a few things they did not include in their carbon emissions total for Inauguration ’09 – transporting special foods for the event; the production of souvenirs and trinkets for the celebration; extended hours for local businesses. A few other things the report doesn’t consider:
- Police, FBI, and other security agents traveling from out of town to assist the secret service.
- The number of stretch limos that will be hired rather than public transportation or taxis.
- Additional energy consumption from outdoor lighting, speaker systems, the 20 Jumbotrons recently installed, etc.
It seems there’s no way around this not-so-green inauguration – the enormous carbon footprint, along with that 20 mpg Caddy are definitely not an eco-start for our first green president!