CO2 Emissions of Transport
The following table shows values of emissions from various modes of transport. The values are per passenger and km travelled.
|Flight (short)||130 g||120 g||250 g|
|Cruise ship||250 g||0 g||250 g|
|Flight (long)||100 g||90 g||190 g|
|Car (1 person)||150 g||0 g||150 g|
|Car (2 persons)||75 g||0 g||75 g|
|Bus||100 g||0 g||100 g|
|Coach||30 g||0 g||30 g|
|Train||10-40 g||0 g||10-40 g|
|Transport||Car (1 person)|
|Transport||Car (2 persons)|
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.
- Climate change: Should you fly, drive or take the train? (BBC, 2019)
- Non-CO2 climate change contributions of air travel (Report ETH Zurich, 2019)