The environmental impact of 4,168 tonnes of CO2

The emission of the greenhouse gas CO2 causes a change in the upper atmosphere of the earth, which is causing our planet to warm up. This is causing unwanted climate change, changing our environment and the habitats of our wild flora and fauna.

Much of this is caused by the journeys we make in our cars.

In most developed countries, which includes most of Europe and the USA, transport is estimated to be responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than any other sector. That is more than electricity generation and agriculture. Globally, transport is estimated to account for around a quarter of CO2 emissions.(The International Energy Agency, 2021)

And much of the world’s transport happens on the road.  Road vehicles – cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes – account for nearly three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transport. We think aeroplanes are the guilty culprits, but its our everyday journeys that add up over the course of a year.

So, cutting down on everyday small journeys can have a big impact.

If the IH community walks for a combined 40,000 miles instead of using a car, that will save an estimated 4,816 tonnes of C02.  What does this look like?

It is equivalent to the entire carbon footprint (from cooking, travelling, clothing themselves, buying stuff, etc) of

  • 2,500 average Vietnamese people,
  • 900 average Portuguese people, or
  • 285 average Australian people.

Yes, the average Australian person is responsible for a whopping 16.8 tonnes of CO2 annually – higher than the USA, Canada and any European country.   (Source: Our World in Data, 2019)

If you prefer to think in terms of animals, it is what

  • 6,200 average sized dogs are responsible for, or
  • 15,500 average sized cats

(source, OVO energy, 2021)

To offset 4,816 tonnes of CO2 would require 240,000 trees growing for a year. That is a lot of trees. (source, ClimateNeutralGroup, 2021). Trees take space to grow, and this many trees would need about

  • 720 football pitches
  • 500 areas the size of the Colliseum, Rome
  • 118 squares the size of the Piazza del Duomo, Milan

So, all in all, it’s far better to cut down on those short journeys that we don't really need a car for and not create the CO2 and pollutants in the first place.

It is possible to avoid using the car altogether. In many countries, even short journeys which could often be made on foot or by bike are usually made by car. In England, for example, around 60% of 1-2 mile trips are made by car. (UK Government, National Transport Survey 2018). These are popping to the shops, to see friends, or going to work or school.

These are journeys where it is very possible to walk. If you do it once or twice, then you will soon realise that it is sustainable and easy to change your habits.