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Transport is on average the first contributor to a family’s carbon footprint.


Below are a few data points regarding the GHG by transport modes (in the USA):

  • Gasoline car v Hybrid v Electric:

    • Although an electric car produces more GHG emissions at the building stage (+15% for a 84-mile range EV vs a gasoline car), they made up for this different when they are driven after only one year.

    • Looking for granular data of emissions from a car during driving ? You can use the car-emissions calculator of the Union of Concerned Scientists to compare emissions between a gasoline, an hybrid and an electric vehicle! Keep in mind that the emission from the electric grid are calculated at the regional level. 


Options to reduce your carbon footprint include (ranked from the most efficient to the least):

  1. Walk or bike

  2. Electric bike

  3. Public Transportation

  4. Carpooling (one of the most underestimated options to reduce the impact of commute emissions and often the most flexible and realistic option for many)

  5. Personal hybrid or electric vehicule (no carpooling)

Of course all of those options might not be a real option for you as commute and short trips are one areas where the carbon footprint depends widely on the infrastructures around you: How dense is your mass transit network? how affordable? How clean are your mass transit options? (eg: is your city bus fleet powered by gasoline or electricity? How clean is the electricity source of your transit?) How clean is the electricity grid of your utility provider, How good are the bike lanes in your cities?…

As decisions regarding transportation are made locally, it is easier for citizens to get their voice heard (see "Act as a Citizen" section). Many groups are often already organized at the local level. If that makes sense for your needs, this can be an opportunity worth checking. 

How we commute is front and center when it comes to assessing one's transport carbon footprint. 


Aviation accounts for 12% of the greenhouse gas emitted by transports worldwide, and 2% of all man-made GHG emissions (or 859M teqCO2 in 2017). However, the current growth projections are polar opposite with where we should be going: the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) forecasts that by 2050 they could grow by a further 300-700%.

There is currently no silver bullet to easily reduce emissions related to air travel.


However, there are still a few actions that can be taken to reduce emissions from flying: ​

  • Commit to eliminate or reduce your air-trip, especially your business trips (eg. make a video conference the “strict by default” and discuss with your colleagues the number of people who really need to make the trip),

  • Take the train instead of a plane whenever possible,

  • Offset your emissions when flying,

  • Avoid connections when possible (take off and landing are greedier in terms of fuel consumption),

  • Lower and raise your shades when asked to it has an impact on the fuel consumed (eg: it reduces the amount of fuel used to cool down the plane when sitting at the gate),


© 2023 Helene Costa de Beauregard and Anita Bagdi 

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