The Human Impact

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday?

June 19, 2013

 

Before you pack the bags for this year’s holidays, it’s worth considering how you’re going to get there – and how much of a problem that might create for the world’s climate. Turns out there’s some unconventional wisdom from scientists – and if you can stand a little company, a road trip might be greener than you think….

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday this year?

Turns out the answer is much the same whether you live in London, Los Angeles or Lagos – and it doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your car at home.

New research by the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway and the Austria-basedInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis tracked the climate impacts of various ways of taking trips of 500 to 1,000 kilometres (300 to 600 miles).

Turns out that car trips aren’t too bad – as long as you share the car with two or three other people and opt for a small vehicle rather than a big one.

“Traveling alone in a large car can be as bad for the climate as flying, but driving with three in a small car could have an equally low impact as a train ride,” said Jens Borken-Kleefeld, one of the study’s lead researchers from the Austrian institute.

Traveling for 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) alone in a big car, for instance, racks up a hefty 250 kilogrammes of carbon emissions. But downsize the car, add two or three other people and your emissions, per person, plummet to 50 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide, about the same as traveling by train or bus.

Air travel remains the big problem. Per mile travelled, it has the biggest impact on climate change, both because of its big carbon dioxide emissions and because it affects climate as well through things like ozone emissions and changes to clouds as a result of jet trails.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, was based on travel in Europe but the general advice applies whether you’re in Lima or Lagos, Borken-Kleefeld said, even though the emissions standards for car, buses and trains are often more lax in those countries.

The advice for both business and holiday travel? Fill up the car with passengers if you’re driving – and choose as small a vehicle as possible. Take the coach or the train if you can. And avoid air travel as much as possible.

PHOTO CREDIT: The driver of a U.S.-made car used as a private collective taxi drops people at a beach on the outskirts of Havana ON May 19, 2013.  REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

Comments
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Based on personal experience, I believe traveling by car is a better choice for a small group of four to five family members. Some of the things that can increase the fuel efficiency and help decrease the carbon footprint are making sure the vehicle has been tuned up properly, tire pressure is at recommended level and the oil has been changed before making the trip. Although it seems like having the car serviced before the trip is given, yet quite often people forget that in the excitement of a road trip on vacation. Just a thought…

Posted by ecojoe | Report as abusive
 

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