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CO2 Emissions of Transport

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The article presents approximate values of CO2 emissions from various modes of transport.

The following table shows values of emissions from various modes of transport. The values are per passenger and km travelled.

TransportCO2Non-CO2Total
Flight (short)130 g120 g250 g
Cruise ship250 g0 g250 g
Flight (long)100 g90 g190 g
Car (1 person)150 g0 g150 g
Car (2 persons)75 g0 g75 g
Bus100 g0 g100 g
Coach30 g0 g30 g
Train10-40 g0 g10-40 g
Transport Flight (short)
CO2 130 g
Non-CO2 120 g
Total 250 g
Transport Cruise ship
CO2 250 g
Non-CO2 0 g
Total 250 g
Transport Flight (long)
CO2 100 g
Non-CO2 90 g
Total 190 g
Transport Car (1 person)
CO2 150 g
Non-CO2 0 g
Total 150 g
Transport Car (2 persons)
CO2 75 g
Non-CO2 0 g
Total 75 g
Transport Bus
CO2 100 g
Non-CO2 0 g
Total 100 g
Transport Coach
CO2 30 g
Non-CO2 0 g
Total 30 g
Transport Train
CO2 10-40 g
Non-CO2 0 g
Total 10-40 g

The "non-CO2" emissions are caused by water vapor, contrails and aviation induced cirrus (AIC), NOx and SOx gases, black carbon and soot. These effects are particularly bad at high altitutes and so they are included only for the air travel.

The shown values are very approximate and differ from source to source. It is easy to remember:

Why does the current climate discussion demonize flying when it is only 1.5 times as bad as driving? The reason could be that airplanes are taken for long distances that are not travelled by car. For example the distance from Zurich to New York is about 6'300 km. So, flying to New York and back corresponds to 6'300 x 2 x 1.5 = 18'900 km travelled alone by car. In my case this would be about 3 years of driving alone. Since I travel usually with my wife and have a small car, the end result is even worse for the air travel. The travel to New York and back for 2 persons produces about 12'600 x 2 x 190 g = 4'788 kg CO2. My small car produces about 0.1 kg CO2/km. So my wife and I could drive about 48'000 km by car before we would reach the emissions of our New York trip.

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