How Different Types of Transportation Affects the Climate

Climate and environment blog

Going alone in a car produces about the same amount of climate impact per kilometer as when sitting in an airplane.

Think about this

Among motor-driven vehicles, trains, buses, and metro are the most environmentally friendly alternatives.

Going alone in a car produces about the same amount of climate impact per kilometer as when sitting in an airplane.

It is not only the climate that is affected by traffic. Noise from road traffic, rail and air traffic disturb a ton of people. Emissions of particles, nitrogen oxides and other air pollutants have effects on health and the environment.

Aviation has increased emissions

Aviation accounts for a share of the total carbon dioxide emissions. The flight also emits high-altitude nitrogen oxides and water vapor that also affect the climate, about as much as the carbon dioxide does. Our flying is increasing rapidly and so are emissions. Measures such as biofuels and fuel-efficient aircraft are not enough to offset the effects on emissions of our increasing flying.

The impact of road traffic on the climate

Road traffic, that is, cars, buses and trucks together, is the type of traffic that affects the climate most overall.

Fuel-efficient cars

  • More electric cars and so-called charging hybrids
  • That some car riders are replaced with walking, cycling and public transport.
  • A reduced need for transport.
  • That freight transport is transferred from trucks to shipping and rail.
  • That more biofuels are used than today.

Railway emissions

The train accounts for less than one percent of the entire transport sector’s carbon dioxide emissions. This is because the trains in many places are largely powered by electricity. Another reason is that the trains roll so easily on the rails. Therefore, it is possible to transport a lot of goods and many passengers with relatively little energy. A train accommodates as many travelers as it does on six buses or almost 140 cars. A freight train can handle as much cargo as 30 trucks.

Shipping emissions

Transporting goods in a fully loaded cargo ship is a very energy-efficient mode of transport.

Rather, when transporting people on passenger ships, it is quite the opposite – the vessels draw a lot of energy in relation to the number of people.

This is because the vessels carry so much weight. For each passenger, “many tons of vessels” must be pushed through the water and in addition at a fairly high speed. This means that emissions from passenger ferries are relatively high.

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