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How to find the most eco friendly way to get from one place to another? - OneSharedEarth
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I would like to find out the most environment friendly options for travelling between any two points. This could be a combination of mode of transport and route.
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2 Answers

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Map My Emissions” (, 2019) gives the greenhouse emissions for the route between any two addresses in the world (as long as the route is available on commercially available maps). You can choose between public transportwalkcycle & car, and compare the outputs. You can also update the type of car to get more accurate results.

EcoPassenger” (, 2019) gives the comparison of atmospheric emissions & energy consumption for trainaeroplane & car travel routes between two European cities. You can update your car specification, number of passengers, etc. to get more accurate results.

Calculate and Compensate for Your Emissions!” (, 2019) has calculators that will tell give the CO2 emissions of a flight (between any two airports in the world) or cruise, which could be used to compare with results from the above calculators.

Note that all calculators use different methods to calculate the emissions so only an approximate comparison between two different calculators is possible.

Further reading:

Shrink Your Travel Footprint” (, 2019) gives the Carbon intensity per kilometre of different types of travel in general, CO2 emissions per kilometre from driving alone, overview of vehicle manufacturing emissions, and other useful information about travel footprints.

If driving, this US govt source - “Many Factors Affect MPG” (, 2017) - lists the factors that affect fuel economy & in turn environment friendliness.

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These are some very useful resources :).

One thing I would add when thinking about how to reduce your carbon footprint in terms of travel is to strongly consider a solution which you can actually maintain in the long term. One-off changes make a difference but a much bigger difference can be made by making a change which you can sustain, for example, not everyone can cycle everywhere, or afford to regularly take the train.
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This paper titled “Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport (2010) [1]” gives a very good summation of both the short- and long-term (5 year, 20 year and 50 year post-emission) environmental impact of various modes of transport. Effect of emissions from one year of transport (year 2000 - measured in 12 different regions around the globe) was used to estimate future impacts of each transport method. 

The key findings in this paper include:

  • Passenger travel with rail, coach/bus, or motorised two- or three-wheelers has the lowest climate impact
  • Air travel contributes most to short-term warming, but car travel is equally bad or worse for long-term warming
  • Short-term temperature increase due to air travel is greater than that for road travel. But the long-term impact of car travel is greater, due to the greater proportion of long-lived gases (such as CO2) that are emitted by cars etc.
  • The warming effect of rail travel due to carbon emissions, ozone, and aerosols is offset by the cooling effect of sulphate aerosols (although these cause air pollution), in the short term

It is worth bearing in mind that this paper was published in 2010 based on data collected in 2000 and so figures are likely to have changed somewhat. However, it still gives a good overview of the long- and short-term impacts of various methods of travel. 

Note: Sulphate aerosols are suspensions of microscopic particles. They can contribute to the cooling of the Earth's atmosphere by scattering and reflecting the Sun's rays. Combustion of fossil fuels can lead to the production of precursor gases (such as SO2) which, in turn, form these aerosols. Along with ozone precursors, they are primary causes of acid rain and of lung irritation and ground-level haze or smog in polluted areas. More info on this at Yale Climate Connections (2008) [2].


1. Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport

Jens Borken-Kleefeld, Terje Berntsen, and Jan Fuglestvedt

Environmental Science & Technology 2010 44 (15), 5700-5706

DOI: 10.1021/es9039693

2. Why Reducing Sulfate Aerosol Emissions Complicates Efforts to Moderate Climate Change

Zeke Hausfather

Yale Climate Connections

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