Carbon Footprint Of The Different Types Of Transport

The transport sector contributes to various types of environmental issues, mainly from the use and combustion of fossil fuels.

The burning of fossil fuels leads to the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

In this guide, we outline the carbon footprint of the different modes and types of transport, such as road, air, water, and rail transport.

 

Summary – Carbon Footprint By Transport Type

The transport sector is responsible for a significant portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions

A range of data indicates that emissions:

– Come mainly from cars and light trucks

– Come mainly from petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines (petroleum based fuel is also the most common type of fuel)

– Happen mainly at the operation stage of a vehicle when it is burning that fossil fuel based fuel

– Are not decreasing because the total number of miles or kilometres being driven per year are not decreasing. There’s an increasing demand for transport essentially. 

… but, there’s also additional ways to break down emissions from transport.

 

Different Types Of Transport

On the road, there’s mainly passenger vehicles and trucks (light trucks, and heavy trucks), as well as motorbikes, buses, and other road transport

But, there’s also water (ships and ferries), air (planes), rail (trains), and other types of transport such as human transport (such as bikes, and even walking)

There’s even new types of transport like electric bikes and skateboards

There’s also passenger vs freight (and delivery) vehicles to consider

 

Ways To Measure Emissions

There’s different ways to measure emissions from different types of transport

A few ways include but aren’t limited to 1. Total emissions or % share of emissions, 2. Emissions (CO2e) per passenger mile or CO2e per mile, and 3. The carbon intensity of a particular mode of transport or fuel (e.g. how much carbon it emits per gallon of fuel for example)

 

Transport’s Share Of Total Emissions

Globally, the transport sector makes up about 14% of greenhouse emissions when compared to other sectors

In the United States, some sources indicate transportation emits the most greenhouse gases, at 28% of total emissions

 

Types Of Transport That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases (In Total, & As A % Share)

Globally, cars and trucks are responsible for the most emission by a large margin of all the different types of transport at 40% and 34% respectively. Planes, boats and trains are next at 11%, 11% and 4% respectively

In the US, again, passenger cars and light duty trucks make up over half the emissions from the transport sector. When adding heavy duty trucks, some estimates put that figure at 83%.

In the US, cars and light trucks make up about 17% of all greenhouse emissions in the US

 

Per Passenger, Per Unit Of Distance Travelled – Emission Rates Of The Different Forms Of Transport

This measurement allows this such as total number of passengers sharing a vehicle, and total distance travelled to be taken into account, as well as total numbers of vehicles on the road for example

As one example, if there’s 4 people in a car compared to 1, that is obviously more efficient per mile as the emissions average out over the 4 people who share the vehicle

One set of data on European per passenger distance travelled emission rates indicated bikes, trains (carrying 156 passenger), and small cars (carrying 4 people, were most efficient from a grams of CO2 emitted perspective

Ships, planes (carrying 88 people) and big cars (carrying 1 to 2 people) were least efficient

The average commercial plane flight might emit more than trains on a per mile basis.

Electrified trains in cleaner cities might be cleaner in terms of emissions compared to regular trains.

Short plane trips also generally emit more than ferries, although the higher the knots on the ferry, the more it emits

 

Emission Rates Per Kilometre Or Mile

In addition to per passenger rates, there are flat per kilometer and per mile rates

In one set of European data, light commercial vehicles emit the most, followed by new passenger cars, and hybrid electric cars emitted the least.

Another set of US data showed trucks emitted more than passenger cars

 

Emissions Of The Average Passenger Car Emissions

The average passenger car might emit around 0.89 pounds of CO2 per mile driven

The average passenger car might emit 4.3 to 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year (but it depends on miles driven, fuel type used, and fuel efficiency)

 

Which Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most From Cars

Carbon dioxide is by far the most emitted greenhouse gas, and it’s mainly from the combustion of petroleum based products like gasoline in internal combustion engines

 

Electric vs Hybrid vs Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

Electric cars have lower emission footprints the cleaner the electricity source is. So, the cleanliness of a city’s electricity grid can matter here – electricity grids powered mainly by fossil fuels, especially coal, will lead to electric cars with higher emissions footprints

A fuel efficient hybrid might be lower in emissions than a regular petroleum based, internal combustion car

A hydrogen fuel cell car emits no greenhouse gases in operation, but, hydrogen needs a primary energy source to make hydrogen from, and hydrogen mainly comes from fossil fuels at the moment, which emits greenhouse gases

 

Fuel Type & Engine Type That Emits The Most Greenhouse Gases

Petroleum based fuel is most commonly used

Petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines emit the most GHGs

Diesel emits more per gallon than gasoline but has better fuel economy

So, fuel economy should be weighed up against the emission rate of a particular fuel or energy source

Natural gas emits about 15 to 20 less greenhouse gases than gasoline

 

At What Stage Do Most Of A Car’s Emissions Occur?

Over 85% of emissions happen at the operation stage when burning fuel

But, there are other emissions at the manufacturing stage, and other stages

 

Tesla & Prius

The model type and features of a Tesla or Prius matter when looking at emissions

There’s a whole range of results that can be obtained depending on the assumptions made and how the emissions are calculated – so, the information in this guide isn’t absolute

Some sources indicate a Tesla S has up to more than a 50% carbon footprint reduction compared to an internal combustion vehicle including hybrids

But, obviously the cleanliness of the electricity source matters

Both greencarreports.com and streets.mn indicate that a Tesla can end up more carbon friendly than a Prius over the entire lifecycle of the car. streets.mn indicates that a 2020 Prius starts off more carbon friendly from an emissions perspective than a Tesla 2020 Model Y, but the Model Y ends up slightly ahead overall after 100,000 miles driven

 

Transport Related Emissions Trends Over Time

On the biggest scale, total emissions are influenced by total number of vehicles on the road, and total number of miles driven by all vehicles

Despite improvements in fuel economy and efficiency, emissions are not decreasing in some places because total vehicle miles travelled are increasing (due to various factors such as an increasing demand for transport)

 

Variables That Impact Transport Emissions

There’s a whole list of variables and factors that can impact the emissions footprint from transport (which is why there can be variance in emissions numbers)

Some of these factors are specific to the driver and the individual vehicle, whilst some are external factors

Emissions numbers can vary between cities and countries, and even based on assumptions and data used in calculations

Read more about these variables and factors in the guide below

 

Other

Read more about carbon footprints in this guide 

The emission of air pollutants that contribute to outdoor air pollution is a separate issue to the emission of greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change and global warming. For a fuller range of environmental effects of transport, such as outdoor air pollution, you can read this guide.

 

What % Of Greenhouse Emissions Is Transport Responsible For Globally?

On a global level, transport is responsible for about 14% of all emissions.

 

What % Of Greenhouse Emissions Is Transport Responsible For In The United States?

Some sources indicate it’s the largest greenhouse gas emitter of any sector.

Transport might be responsible for between 28 to 33% of total emissions in the US.

 

In 2018, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation accounted for about 28.2 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions

– epa.gov

 

The four largest generators of CO2 in the U.S. are: Heating and cooling homes (21%), Heating and cooling buildings (18%), Driving cars and trucks (33%), and Industrial operations (28%).

– nrmca.org

 

What % of Greenhouse Emissions Is Transport Responsible For In Europe?

Roughly one fifth to one quarter of total emissions.

 

In Europe:

Road transport contributes about one-fifth of the EU’s total emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas.

Light-duty vehicles – cars and vans – produce around 15% of the EU’s emissions of CO2.

Heavy-duty vehicles – trucks and buses – are responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU and for some 6% of total EU emissions.

– ec.europa.eu

 

Which Types Of Transport Are Responsible For The Most Greenhouse Emissions Globally?

Cars and trucks by far emit the most greenhouse gas emissions of any type of transport globally in the transport sector.

 

In terms of total global emissions, the forms of transport that emit the most GHGs are:

Cars – 40%

Trucks – 34%

Planes – 11%

Boats – 11%

Trains – 4%

– wikipedia.org

 

Which Types Of Transport Are Responsible For The Most Greenhouse Emissions In The US?

In the US, passenger cars and light duty trucks make up over half of greenhouse emissions from the transport sector.

When adding heavy duty trucks, some estimates put that figure at 83%.

Passenger cars and light trucks also make up more than 15% of total emissions in the US.

 

[Emissions related to transport in the US …]

The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans.

These sources account for over half of the emissions from the transportation sector.

The remaining greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector come from other modes of transportation, including freight trucks, commercial aircraft, ships, boats, and trains, as well as pipelines and lubricants.

– epa.gov

 

[In the transportation sector alone in the US …]

Passenger cars, light duty trucks and medium or heavy duty trucks emit around 83% of transportation greenhouse gases.

Commercial aircrafts (7%), rail, ships and boats, motorcycles and buses and other transportation make up the rest

– css.umich.edu

 

[Of all greenhouse gases emitted across all parts of society in the US …]

Cars and light trucks make up about 17% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the US (as of 2016).

– css.umich.edu

 

What Types Of Transport Are Responsible For The Most Emissions In Canada?

Passenger transport and freight by far make up the most emissions.

 

[In Canada] Passenger transportation contributes 54% to total emissions, freight emissions are 41% of total and off-road is 5%.

– nrcan.gc.ca

 

Per Passenger, Per Unit Of Distance Travelled – Emission Rates Of The Different Types Of Transport

Another way to measure greenhouse gas emissions for the different modes of transport is emissions per passenger, per unit of distance travelled/carried.

That unit of distance could be miles or kilometres.

This measurement takes into account modes of transport that can carry more or less passengers, or have a better or worse per passenger footprint.

Based on the numbers below, what we see is that bicycles, trains and full small cars have the lowest emission rates, whilst ships, planes, and cars with 1 or 2 people capacities in them have the highest emission rates.

With this method of measurement, it’s clear that the number of people a mode of transport can carry helps lower the emission rates by averaging out total emissions amongst all passengers.

But, these are averages/estimates, and should only be taken as a rough guide.

There are also different factors you have to account for with different types of transport that can change the emission numbers and how emission friendly a certain mode of transport is.

As just one example, these numbers are for Europe, and could differ in another country.

 

From wikipedia.org, the numbers below are for grams of CO2 emissions, per passenger kilometre, in Europe:

Bike (carrying 1 passenger average) – 0 gCO2 (per passenger kilometre)

Trains (carrying a 156 passenger average) – produces 14 gCO2 (per passenger kilometre)

Small Car (carrying 4) – 42 gCO2 

Big Car (carrying 4)  – 55 gCO2 

Bus (carrying 12.7) – 68 gCO2 

Motorbike (carrying 1.2) – 72 gCO2 

Small Car (carrying 1.5) – 104 gCO2 

Big Car (carrying 1.5) – 158 gCO2 

Plane (carrying 88) – 285 gCO2 

Ship – 245 gCO2 

 

What is not considered in the numbers above is transport such as small electric scooters and electric skateboards.

 

Emission Rates Per Passenger, Per Unit Of Distance Travelled For Other Types Of Transport – Planes, Trains, Boats, Etc.

The data below is split between passenger miles and passenger kilometres.

We can see the average commercial plane flight might emit more than trains on a per mile basis.

Electrified trains in cleaner cities might be cleaner in terms of emissions compared to regular trains.

Short plane trips also generally emit more than ferries, although the higher the knots on the ferry, the more it emits

 

Planes

In 2016, the average domestic commercial flight emitted 0.39 pounds of CO2e per passenger mile.

It is affected by aircraft type, the length of trip, occupancy rates, and passenger and cargo weight

– css.umich.edu

 

CO2 and CO2 equivalent per passenger kilometre:

Domestic, short distance, less than 463 km (288 mi): 257 g/km CO2 or 259 g/km (14.7 oz/mile) CO2e [259 grams is about 0.57 pounds]

Long distance flights: 113 g/km CO2 or 114 g/km (6.5 oz/mile) CO2e [114 grams is about 0.25 pounds]

– wikipedia.org

 

Trains

On average, trains release 0.31 pounds of CO2e per passenger mile

– css.umich.edu

 

On average, commuter rail and subway trains emit 0.17 kg of CO2 per passenger mile (0.11 kg/km per passenger) [0.17kg is about 0.37 pounds]

… [and] long distance (>20 mi, >32 km) trains emit 0.19 kg of CO2 per passenger mile (0.12 kg/km per passenger) [0.19kg is about 0.41 pounds]

[Regular trains can be two to eight times higher emitting than electrified trains in some cities according to some sets of data]

– wikipedia.org

 

Sea & Ferries

Average carbon dioxide emissions by ferries per passenger-kilometre seem to be 0.12 kg (4.2 oz). [0.19kg is about 0.26 pounds]

[However, 18 knot ferries, and 24–27-knot ferries can produce a lot more]

– wikipedia.org

 

The wikipedia.org resources have a lot more information on CO2e per distance travelled, and per passenger distance travelled.

 

Emission Rates Per Kilometre Or Mile

Apart from CO2e rates per passenger mile or kilometre, some sources provide just CO2e rates per mile or kilometre for a vehicle regardless of the number of people it carriers.

The wikipedia.org resource does this for road transport and other types of transport.

In one set of European data, light commercial vehicles emit the most, followed by new passenger cars, and hybrid electric cars emitted the least.

Another set of US data showed trucks emitted more than passenger cars.

 

Average Emissions Rate & Amount, From The Average Passenger Vehicle

For a typical passenger vehicle …

 

Per Mile Emissions

Tailpipe CO2 created from driving one mile – The average passenger vehicle emits about 404 grams of CO2 per mile [404 grams is about 0.89 pounds]

– epa.gov

 

The average passenger car emits 0.78 pounds of CO2 per mile driven

– css.umich.edu

 

Annual Emissions

… A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

This assumes the average gasoline vehicle on the road today has a fuel economy of about 22.0 miles per gallon and drives around 11,500 miles per year. 

– epa.gov

 

If you’re commuting 7800 miles each year in your car (based on 30 miles a day for work). And if you drive a car that gets 22 miles to the gallon every weekday, your annual carbon footprint from commuting is 4.3 metric tons

– livescience.com

 

Emissions Over Lifetime Of Car

… roughly 126,000 pounds of CO2e [are] emitted in a car’s lifetime (assuming 120,000 miles for a 1995 mid-sized sedan)

– css.umich.edu

 

What Greenhouse Gases Does The Average Passenger Vehicle Emit?

For a typical passenger vehicle …

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. 

[… In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2), automobiles produce methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)  from the tailpipe and hydrofluorocarbon emissions from leaking air conditioners. The emissions of these gases are small in comparison to CO2 though]

– epa.gov

 

For a typical passenger vehicle, you also have the indirect carbon footprint of making the car itself, and extracting, pumping and transporting to get the oil to refineries and service stations

 

Carbon Footprint Of Electric, Hybrid & Hydrogen Cars

Electric

The carbon footprint of electric vehicles depends on factors like how large the car is, but also how clean the energy source is that the car gets it’s electricity from.

Cleaner energy grids might mean lower carbon footprints for electric vehicles, and dirtier energy grids that run primarily on fossil fuels might have higher carbon footprints.

You also have to look at the individual features of the car, such as how many Wh/kilometre (or mile) the car gets from it’s battery

 

Hybrid

The emissions of hybrid vehicles depends on the type of hybrid vehicle it is, it’s features and the system it uses, and the amount of electricity or gasoline it uses.

It also matters where it gets it’s electricity from if it uses electricity.

So, hybrid vehicles can have varying carbon footprints.

A fuel efficient hybrid vehicle might be more carbon efficient than a gasoline, internal combustion, regular passenger vehicle.

 

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle emits only water vapor, but, like an electric vehicle, it needs a primary energy source to make the hydrogen fuel. This energy source has a carbon footprint, especially when it’s a fossil fuel

 

Type Of Fuel & Engine System That Emits The Most Greenhouse Gases

Apart from the type or mode of transport, the type of energy or fuel source used also contributes to emission rates.

For example, with road transport, gasoline, diesel and cars running on electricity, all have potential to emit GHGs at different rates and with different intensities. 

This will become even more important to consider in the future when electric vehicles need an energy source.

The type of engine or battery system the car uses can also matter e.g. an internal combustion engine vs an electric car battery.

From the data below, petroleum based fuel is most common, petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines emit the most GHGs, and diesel emits more per gallon than gasoline but has better fuel economy.

 

Most Commonly Used Car Fuel

Over 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation [in the US] is petroleum based, which includes gasoline and diesel.

– epa.gov

 

Types Of Fuel & Engines Responsible For The Most Emissions

In general …

Considering only tailpipe emissions, natural gas also emits 15 to 20 percent less heat-trapping gases than gasoline when burned in today’s typical vehicle

– ucsusa.org

 

In the United States … 

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines.

– epa.gov

 

Emissions Rates & Efficiency Of Different Fuel Types

Gasoline releases 19.6 pounds of CO2 per gallon when burned, compared to 22.4 pounds per gallon for diesel. 

However, diesel has 11% more BTU per gallon, which improves its fuel economy.

– css.umich.edu

 

For a typical passenger vehicle…

Tailpipe CO2 created from burning one gallon of fuel …

… CO2 Emissions from a gallon of gasoline: 8,887 grams CO2/ gallon

… CO2 Emissions from a gallon of diesel: 10,180 grams CO2/ gallon

– epa.gov

 

Burning one gallon of gasoline creates about 20 pounds of CO2—which means the average vehicle creates roughly 6 to 9 tons of CO2 each year.

– c2es.org

 

[In Australia] Every litre of unleaded petrol consumed generates around 2.5kg* of greenhouse gas (measured in CO2-e or carbon dioxide equivalent), one litre of diesel fuel generates about 2.9kg* CO2-e and LPG 1.7kg* CO2-e.

– greenfleet.com.au

 

Emissions From Different Energy Sources

Energy sources will be more important in the future as more electric vehicles from example are on the roads, and electricity they use will need an energy source.

Read more about the different energy sources and their emission rates in this guide.

 

At What Stage Do Majority Of Car Emissions Occur?

Most of the carbon footprint of a regular passenger car comes from the operation stage.

There are indirect emissions to consider too though.

Whilst it is estimated that around 80-90% of emissions happen at the vehicle usage stage whilst burning fuel, all vehicles have a carbon footprint at their manufacturing stage too (indirect emissions), and this is where the remainder of emissions might come from for cars

 

Where Majority Of Emissions Come From

Of the roughly 126,000 pounds of CO2e emitted in a car’s lifetime (assuming 120,000 miles for a 1995 mid-sized sedan), 86% is from burning fuel.

– css.umich.edu

 

Direct Emissions

The direct carbon footprint can be measured from tailpipe emissions, or in the case of electric cars, the emissions from the energy source

– css.umich.edu

 

Indirect Emissions

Can come from mining and sourcing materials, manufacture, shipping and transporting, pumping and refining, maintenance and servicing of the car, and waste disposal.

 

Every time you buy a new car, you effectively mine 3-7g of “platinum group metals” to coat the catalytic converter.

The six elements in the platinum group have the greatest environmental impact of all metals, and producing just one kilo requires the emission of thousands of kilos of CO₂. 

– theconversation.com

 

streets.mn and drivetribe.com both outline the impact of production carbon footprints, but drivetribe.com also outlines the impact of making batteries and shipping.

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Tesla

It does depend on the type of Tesla you buy, as some Teslas for example can solar charge from their roof for example, and others have better power efficiency or capability.

The Tesla size, wheel size and front vs rear wheel drive, battery size, drive range per charge, and other factors all matter.

Technology will also change as Tesla upgrades it, and they bring out newer models.

But, for now …

 

When comparing a Tesla’s carbon footprint vs internal combustion vehicles including hybrids …

… the manufacturing of a full-sized Tesla Model S rear-wheel drive car with an 85 KWH battery was equivalent to a full-sized internal combustion car except for the battery, which added 15% or one metric ton of CO2 emissions to the total manufacturing.

… this was trivial compared to the emissions avoided due to not burning fossil fuels to move the car [where] Tesla has a 53% carbon footprint reduction, even when taking into account the usually coal fuelled electricity a Tesla uses to power the battery

Tesla are also able to recycle their batteries into completely reusable materials and substantially reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing Lithium-ion batteries [and] Unicore are able to recover 70% of the carbon in the end of battery lifecycle

– forbes.com

 

Some people have had their Tesla S models independently tested to provide 444 watt hour per kilometre (Wh/km)

When applying a 0.5 g CO2/Wh for electric energy consumption, the Tesla S car has carbon emissions of 222g/km

– channelnewsasia.com

 

The popularmechanics.com resource in the resources list at the bottom of this guide has more information about challenging carbon myths about Teslas.

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Prius

Per wikipedia.org, each new generation of the Prius produces less emissions per mile driven.

According to the Toyota website as of March 2021, the latest featured Prius model ‘rated at 3.4L/100km for combined fuel economy and 80g/km for combined CO2’

According to greencarreports.com: ‘[the Prius Prime emits] 181 grams of CO2 per mile [but] several all-electric cars proved even greener than the Prius Prime over their full life cycles, including the Tesla Model 3, the Chevy Bolt EV, Nissan Leaf, and Ford Focus Electric’

streets.mn has an article worth reading which shows on a graph that a 2020 Prius starts off more carbon friendly from an emissions perspective than a Tesla 2020 Model Y, but the Model Y ends up slightly ahead overall after 100,000 miles driven.

Two other articles worth reading are from drivetribe.com and greencarreports.com though – they both outline why Prius’ aren’t the perfect solution to transport related emissions, by outlining some limitations.

 

What Is The Trend Of Transport Related Emissions Over Time?

It might be accurate to say that transport related emissions are not decreasing despite fuel economy and efficiency improvements

Demand for travel, population growth, economic growth, urban sprawl, and periods of low fuel prices are factors that can increase emissions, and vehicle miles travelled.

 

In terms of the overall trend, from 1990 to 2018, total transportation emissions have increased due, in large part, to increased demand for travel.

The number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by light-duty motor vehicles (passenger cars and light-duty trucks) increased by 46.1 percent from 1990 to 2018 …

[Average new vehicle fuel economy has improved every year since 2005]

– epa.gov

 

… total annual vehicle-miles driven have increased by more than 140 percent since 1970 (pollutionissues.com)

 

[Emissions from transport in Europe{]

While … emissions fell by 3.3% in 2012, they are still 20.5% higher than in 1990.

Transport is the only major sector in the EU where greenhouse gas emissions are still rising.

– ec.europa.eu

 

Different Factors & Variables That Can Affect Emissions From Transport

There a both general, and specific factors and variables that can affect the emission totals and rates from different modes of transport.

Some of those include:

 

– Cars

Variables that lead to different emission rates are the type of fuel used, emission regulations and laws in an area, the brand, model and features of the car, and how fuel efficient the car is (technology and weight of the car might play a role here).

The total number of cars on the road also matters – there is little point in making cars more efficient fuel wise if there will be more cars on the road being used in total.

The total distance being driven by all drivers also matters in addition to the total number of cars on the road … are people driving longer distances, or shorter?

 

– Aviation & Air

The length of the flight

Longer flights can be more efficient because the take off energy is averaged out with more distance travelled.

But, shorter flights may lead to less total emissions

There are different factors and variables that ultimately determine each aircraft’s emission rate

 

– Water & Ferries

For sea transport, the carbon intensity can depend on what knot ferry or ship is being used

 

– Buses

Inner city buses emit greater rates of GHGs compared to outer city long distance buses.

How often a bus has to stop, and traffic jams, detours, and pit-stops can all impact emission rates and efficiency.

 

– Trains & Rail

Commuter trains emit at a lower rate than long distance trains

Also, detours, and stop-overs add to total emissions.

How many people does the train hold in total?

Rail emissions per passenger kilometer can differ from country to country, and depending on whether the rail is electrified or not, and how clean the electricity is

 

– Shipping & Delivery Vehicles

Delivery vans and trucks tend to have lower emission rates than big rig transport boats and vessels.

When measuring by kg of CO2 per Ton-Mile, air cargo is the worst emitter, followed by trucks, trains, and sea freight last.

 

– In General

The type of vehicle (car, truck, etc)

The brand and model of the vehicle

The size of the vehicle

How many passengers the vehicle can hold

The fuel used by the vehicle (gasoline vs diesel for example)

The fuel efficiency (how many miles per gallon it gets, or, how many miles per charge it gets)

Whether it uses an internal combustion engine or an electric battery, or whether it has both

The conditions the vehicle is driven in

How the vehicle is driven (e.g. slow stop-starting in a city vs faster consistent driving on a highway vs redlining on a race track)

How clean the electricity source is if it’s an electric car

The condition of the vehicle – how well maintained it is

Individual features of the car such as the size or width of the tires, regenerative braking, tailpipe carbon capture technology and so on

The weight and load on the vehicle

Options/accessories fitted to the vehicle

Factors and variables that might vary throughout the whole lifecycle and all stages of the vehicle (sourcing and mining of materials, manufacturing, shipping, operation, waste disposal, and so on)

 

– Large Scale Variables

Total distance covered by all vehicles (total miles or kilometres)

Total number of individual vehicles on roads, in the air, in the water, and so on

 

The carbon footprint of a vehicle varies depending on the type of vehicle it is

– css.umich.edu

 

Potential Solutions For Reducing Emissions In The Transport Sector

Read more about potential solutions for reducing emissions in the transport sector in this guide.

It’s worth noting that more sustainable transport has several potential solutions (that currently involve trade offs) that might help address emissions and air pollution

But, total number of vehicles and total distance travelled per year also matters, because more total miles by all vehicles, generally equals more emissions overall

 

Other Potential Environmental Issues Arising From Transport 

Note that CO2 emissions are just one part of the equation when it comes to transport pollution. 

There’s also regular air pollutant emissions from transport via particulates, carbon monoxide, ozone and other air contaminants that decrease air quality and can impact human health.

Read more about the impact of transport and vehicles on the environment in this guide.

The potential solutions for reducing air pollutant emissions from vehicles are similar to those suggested for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles (as both result from the burning of fossil fuels as a main source of the emissions and pollution)

 

Sources

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_transport

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/impact-of-transport-vehicles-on-the-environment/

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/solutions-to-climate-change-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/potential-options-solutions-for-reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-in-transport-industry/

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/potential-solutions-for-reducing-transport-vehicle-pollution-emissions/

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/how-cities-might-reduce-greenhouse-gases-address-climate-change-solutions-strategies-as-well-as-examples-of-cities-who-have-already-reduced-emissions/

7. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/industries-sectors-that-emit-the-most-greenhouse-gases-carbon-dioxide/

8. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/which-energy-source-is-the-most-dangerous-harmful-which-is-safest/

9. http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet

10. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions#transportation

11. https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle

12. https://theconversation.com/the-hidden-carbon-cost-of-everyday-products-96745

13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_footprint#Passenger_transport

14. https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/04/22/the-carbon-footprint-of-tesla-manufacturing/#1c0ad4a56096

15. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lta-on-tesla-co2-emissions-for-electric-cars-start-at-power-grid-8134258

16. https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/hybrid-electric/news/a27039/tesla-battery-emissions-study-fake-news/

17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius#Fourth_generation_(XW50;_2015%E2%80%93present)

18. http://www.pollutionissues.com/Ve-Z/Vehicular-Pollution.html

19. https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1052110_five-reasons-buying-a-hybrid-prius-wont-save-the-planet

20. https://drivetribe.com/p/the-toyota-prius-is-terrible-for-ak8Ri3yiTj2u3u56CZOqYQ?iid=O4Rtr2xsQ1Gwc8aWtHblWg

21. https://www.toyota.com.au/prius

22. https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1117018_2018-toyota-prius-prime-tesla-model-3-take-awards-for-lowest-environmental-and-social-impact#:~:text=ASG%20expects%20the%20Prius%20Prime,per%20mile%2C%20counting%20its%20manufacturing.&text=Over%20its%20predicted%20lifetime%2C%20the,2017%20Nissan%20Leaf%2C%20167%20grams.

23. https://streets.mn/2020/01/06/it-takes-66379-miles-for-an-electric-car-to-have-lower-emissions-than-hybrid/

24. https://www.c2es.org/content/reducing-your-transportation-footprint/

25. https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport/vehicles_en

26. https://greenfleet.com.au/Individuals/Reduce-Emissions/Transport

27. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/facts/energy-ghgs/20063

28. https://www.nrmca.org/sustainability/CONCRETE%20CO2%20FACT%20SHEET%20FEB%202012.pdf

29. https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/environmental-impacts-of-natural-gas#.W9AW9BMzbR1

Leave a Comment