# Infographic: The Greener Way to Get There

## The Greener Way to Get There

Among planes, trains, and automobiles—all’s not equal when it comes to their emissions. So what’s the greenest way to get around? It depends on how far you’re traveling. We break down the carbon footprint for a solo traveler embarking on different trips in various vehicles.

## Going the Distance

**Long-distance trip (2500 miles) roughly Los Angeles to New York**

- Large SUV (12 mpg): 5200 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Typical SUV (18 mpg): 3475 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Typical car (23 mpg): 2700 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Efficient car (32 mpg): 1950 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Hybrid car (46 mpg): 1350 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Average train: 1025 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Electric car (charged on the grid): 1025 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Wide-body jet: 931 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Bus: 425 pounds of CO2 per trip

**Short-distance trip (350 miles) Roughly Los Angeles to San Francisco**

- Large SUV (12 mpg): 728 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Typical SUV (18 mpg): 487 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Typical car (23 mpg): 378 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Efficient car (32 mpg): 273 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Hybrid car (46 mpg): 222 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Average train: 189 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Electric car (charged on the grid): 144 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Wide-body jet: 144 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Bus: 60 pounds of CO2 per trip

**Cross-city trip (20 miles)**

- Typical car (23 mpg): 21.6 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Diesel train: 9 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Electric car (charged on the grid): 8 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Electric train: 7 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Carpool in typical car: 6 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Bus: 3 pounds of CO2 per trip
- Bicycle: 0 pounds of CO2 per trip

**Why So Different?**

- Type of fuel or energy source
- Type of vehicle
- Distance traveled
- Overall system infrastructure

**Considering a detour?**

**Thinking about an upgrade?**

**Going with company?**

## Road Warriors

Though large vehicles like buses and trains put out greater emissions than the average car, those emissions are shared among the larger vehicle’s passengers resulting in a smaller carbon footprint per person. So what if you can’t take public transit? An electric car wins out.

**Typical gas-fueled car**: 1.08 pounds of CO2/mile

**Hybrid car (such as Chevy Volt)**: 0.54 pounds of CO2/mile

**Electric car charged on electric grid (such as Nissan Leaf)**: 0.41 pounds of CO2/mile

When you’re driving them around, electric vehicles are emissions-free because they don’t burn anything, but they do have an ongoing carbon footprint when they’re charged on a coal-fired grid. Multiple studies confirm, however, that the environmental impact of doing this is still dramatically lower than driving a car with a combustion engine. Plus, that generates CO2 at a “point source” (a power plant) where it’s a bit easier to control and clean CO2 emissions versus a “non-point source” (cars) where CO2 emissions are harder to capture and clean.

## The Greenest Ride of All

So what’s the best way to get around with the smallest carbon footprint? Charge an already eco-friendly electric car using solar panels. Even a small home solar system can charge an electric car for up to 15,000 miles a year. Larger systems can power even more.

1-2 kW: 15,000 miles for an electric car

3-5 kW: Zero dollars for household electricity.

Again, because electric cars are typically charged on the coal-fired grid, they still have somewhat of an ongoing carbon footprint, but if you charge your electric car using solar panels you ride is totally emissions free!

Sources: timeanddate.com, Union of Concerned Scientists, NPR, Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

**What’s One Block Off the Grid?**

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Don’t forget that CO2 emissions don’t equate directly to the amount of global warming – emissions from a plane at altitude cause 2 to 3 times as much warming!

Over here in Europe, almost all our long-distance trains are electric and an increasing amount of their power comes from renewable electricity, so they are a dramatically better option than planes or cars.

Great Infographic!

In Europe, beside the train, carpooling is also becoming incredibly popular. More than 2 million people use http://www.carpooling.com every month and this is definitely the way to go when you take the car.

And also, this infographic doesn’t even take into account the pounds per person per mile traveled, which is a way more important number.

According to the EPA, a gallon of gas contains 5.3 pounds of CO2. Assuming a “round trip” (which I don’t think this infographic is claiming), the amount of CO2 that this infographic claims is roughly 2.35 times More Than the ACTUAL amount of CO2 produced. This infographic is inflating the statistics by more then double what a vehicle produces in reality. Now I’m all for efficiency and less pollutants, but this over stating of facts needs to stop.

Ever wondered about the most carbon reduced forms of travel are? Here’s a cheat sheet. Info coming on motorcycles and mopeds…

Bicycle is the future

@Jonathan Melhuish I agree. it would be really interesting to see the impact of flights put into perspective after accounting for the altitude of emissions. And perhaps as important, would be to display the effect of capacity of all these vehicles.

I do love a good infographic but I think they can sometimes be more confusing than they are elucidating.

From research I’ve seen, the most efficient way to get around is using Electric Bicycles with 2 riders, charged using renewable energy. This is better than a cyclist who eats local organic food.

Thanks for the info.

accept no less than zero-point energy

Very informative graphic

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Is there a way of printing out the different sections of the Greener Way to Get there infographic? I want to use the Around Town section in an exhibition I am putting together to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint.

[...] 4. OK, so carpooling isn’t exactly a new concept… But, it’s ever-important. Did you know that carpooling just two days a week reduces CO2 emissions by 1,590 pounds a year? Just TWO days per week = 1,590 lbs. saved. Talk to your colleagues who live near you to set up a carpooling system. (Source: One Block Off the Grid) [...]

[...] Source [...]

Very informative. I think more people need to be aware of this.

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