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Getting hold of the correct data for this section has been onerous to say the least. This is because we wanted to present a CO2 emissions perspective for transport from production of fuel its transportation and then the consumption of fuel in transportation.

The first realisation is that in reality we need to present the full greenhouse gas perspective and for transport there are three major green house gases, these are CO2, CH4 and N2O. Looking at the data below you will notice that all the data is presented in terms of CO2e. CO2e is the is the CO2 weight equivalent of the greenhouse gas warming potential of CH4 and N2O. For more on this have a look here… Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Dioxide Equivalence

The first table gives the CO2e emissions for various transport fuels including supply chain emissions. The value for electricity is based on the current UK national grid emissions. Sources for this data are at the bottom of the page.

CO2e emissions for various transport fuels including supply chain emissions. The value for electricity is based on the current UK national grid emissions.
Fuel Emissions kg CO2e / kWh used Supply Chain Emissions kg CO2e / kWh Total kg CO2e / kWh
Petrol 0.24 0.05 0.29
Diesel 0.254 0.056 0.31
Aviation Spirit 0.241 0.052 0.293
Aviation Turbine Fuel 0.247 0.05 0.297
Electricity 0.367
Food More on Diet and Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1.5

The next table is an extension of the table in the energy of transportation section. We include in it the approximate amount of CO2e you kick out as a result of travelling the way you do. The numbers include supply chain CO2e in all cases. It should be immediately obvious from the table that your average private jet and cruise liners are not too good for the environment and perhaps 4x4 cars are overindulgent. Trains are pretty good especially when electrified and full (just how I hate them!).

Air Transport is often cited as terrible for the environment and it is not so great, but if we are to fly then there is little choice but to burn hydrocarbon based fuels, usually fossil derived. You do not get sensible electrically powered aircraft, you simply cannot deliver the power required to fly a jet with a battery.

To me it would be sensible to focus carbon reduction initiatives to transport on land where it is much easier to develop and use more electric vehicles. For this to be effective the grid which powers these vehicles must not emit greenhouse gasses, to do this we will require carbon capture technologies on fossil fuel power stations, more renewables and other carbon free methods of generating electricity.

If you wish to look at what you could do reduce your impact on travel perhaps consider the following.

  • Walk more
  • Cycle
  • Get a hybrid bike?
  • Car sharing
  • Live closer to work
  • Swap the 4x4 for a smaller car
  • Greater use of public transport
  • Fly a little less – and go for more than just a few days!
  • Consider an electric car
  • Use your private jet a little less, I have moth-balled mine :)
Various transport modes their fuel and the approximate energy per person 100 km and the CO2e generated for the mode of transport (full supply chain). If two are in the car divide the energy and CO2e by two!
Mode Occupancy Fuel Energy (kWh/ 100-person-km) Kg CO2e/ 100-person-km Kg CO2e/ 100-person-mile
Walk 1 Food 6 9 14.5
Bicycle 1 Food 3 4.5 7.2
Motorised Bike 1 Food/Electricity 1:3 9 6.7 8
Motorbike 1 Petrol 40 11.6 18.6
Petrol Car 1 Petrol 90 26.1 41.9
Diesel Car 1 Diesel 70 21.6 34.7
Electric Car 1 Electricity 30 11 17.7
Large 4x4 Car 1 Diesel 110 33.9 54.5
Local Bus Variable Average Diesel 9.9 15.9
Coach Full Diesel 5 1.5 2.5
Transit (Metro,Tram) Variable Average Electricity 12 4.4 7.1
High Speed Train Full Diesel 9 2.8 4.5
High Speed Train Full Electricity 4 1.5 2.4
Small Jet (Learjet) 8 Passengers Aviation turbine Fuel 150 44.5 71.6
Small Turboprop 6 Passengers Aviation Spirit 60 17.6 28.3
Helicopter Variable Average Aviation Spirit 150 44.0 70.8
Jumbo Jet Full Aviation turbine Fuel 42 12.5 20.0
Sea Bus Variable Average Diesel 21 6.5 10.4
Ocean Liner Full Diesel 105 32.3 52.0

to be crude the food data does not include methane emissions from your flatulence!

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