Wednesday - Aug 23, 2017

CO2 Footprint Calculator: Which Transport Mode Pollutes Less

CO2 Footprint Calculator: Which Transport Mode Pollutes Less

Climate change is becoming one of the top challenges of the 21st century. Governments and societies are becoming more concerned about their carbon footprint, and CO2 footprint calculators are constantly being used to calculate carbon emissions. Scientists are also working hard to find better ways to reduce the human race’s impact on the environment. In a world of increased travel, this inevitably raises the question: which transport mode is most environmentally friendly and pollutes the least? These are always tricky comparisons, and often depend on the models of vehicles being compared as well as other usage factors. However, basic comparisons can be made between flying, driving, and taking the train.

Train vs. Plane

An airplane will produce about 85 g/km per person of CO2 emissions on an average flight. Travelling by train instead of flying can cut CO2 emissions by a huge percentage. A flight from London to Paris, for example, will emit 91 per cent more CO2 compared to a journey by train. An additional factor that needs to be taken into consideration here is that jetplanes emit their carbon dioxide directly into the upper atmosphere, doing twice the damage to planet earth due to the greenhouse effect created. Verdict: trains definitely pollute less.

Train vs. Car

The carbon footprint left behind by a train trip depends on how energy efficient the train is. However, the train has this point to its advantage: the large amount of people travelling by train at one single time makes train travel more efficient compared to private vehicles. An individual’s CO2 footprint becomes significantly lowered when taking public transport. This explains why driving often produces twice the amount of greenhouse gases per person compared to a train trip. Verdict: take the train when possible.

Plane vs. Car

This very much depends on how many people you fetch in your car on average. Although driving is potentially more environmentally friendly than flying, this is based on the calculation of 4 individuals per car. However, statistics show that the average car only has 1.2 passengers, which is not even half of the full load. Verdict: driving alone is just as bad as travelling by plane, but carpooling leaves a lighter footprint.

Despite these basic comparisons, it is good to bear in mind that CO2 footprint calculators are not 100 per cent accurate. It is not an exact science. However, from the comparisons above, it is safe to say that flying is one of the most carbon-intense transport mode. Substituting flights with other modes of transport such as taking trains and buses are often good environmental choices although you will have to endure longer travel times. Individuals who have no choice but to fly should consider supporting airlines which offset their carbon footprint even though offsetting is only a temporary environmental solution.

CO2 Footprint Calculators

Among the many CO2 footprint calculator tools available online, ecopassenger is one of the most useful sites to calculate and compare the environmental impact of your trips by plane, car, and train. is another free calculator which allows you to buy offsets. As global warming becomes an imminent threat, society should definitely learn to take their CO2 footprint into account before making travel decisions.

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