Part 4/10: Saving the Planet by Driving Less

This is Part 4 of a 10 part series of blogs in support of the 10:10 campaign  initiated by Director, Franny Armstrong’s team to complement the documentary on global warming, “The Age of Stupid”.  It is to enable each one of us to take action and reduce our carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.  Download the 10 point family checklist from the campaign here.

According to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers   it is estimated that over 600,000,000 passenger cars travel the streets and roads of the world today. The share of global surface transport (including cars) is about 16% of global carbon emissions.

As this video shows, car production involves a huge amount of resources that can be saved by not owning a personal car.


Saving the planet without a car

1. Use Public Transport such as buses, taxis, trains, tube trains, trams, auto-rickshaws, ferries and boats depending on the town or city in which you live.
The impact on carbon emissions is huge. In Singapore, according to SMRT the public transport company, “You can reduce your carbon footprint by 91% when you travel by train the train, and 67% with the bus. In a year, your carbon footprint is 29kg when you take an SMRT train and 101kg when you take an SMRT bus. If you take a car, your carbon footprint is 308kg.”

2. Walk or Use a bicycle to travel. In some countries, this may be an issue due to lack of proper pavements or cycling lanes. However, if you can at least do it during weekends when the traffic is less it would make a big difference.

3. Car pool for work, travel or for domestic chores. Many cities in the world have professional car pooling services, otherwise you can link up with neighbours, friends and colleagues.


Saving the planet with a better vehicle :

If you do need a personal vehicle:

4. Buy a used car or lease one instead of a going in for a new one as you would be reducing demand for fresh resources.  A car uses about 400,000 litres of water in production, and huge amounts of metals like steel. It is estimated that the embedded carbon in manufacture of small to large cars is between 3000 to 5000 kgs.

5. Buy a motorbike instead of a car, depending on road safety in your area and the number of passengers you wish to co-travel with. It gives greater miles per gallon or MPG and uses less resources in its production.

6. Downsize your vehicle to one that fits your family or usage, instead of going for big gas guzzlers. When you need extra space, consider hiring a big vehicle as and when you need it

7. Cut out on extras when purchasing. Remember that added features like automatic transmissions, 4-wheel drives, power steering, larger engine capacities (CC) add to fuel usage

8. Get a car with a low MPG or Miles per Gallon, and you’d be saving fuel automatically for every mile you drive. Go for one with good emissions standards so it pollutes less.

9. Go for renewable energy technology cars such as hybrid cars, electric cars, cars that run on compressed natural gas, hydrogen powered cars and solar powered cars.

Check how these different technologies work and what the different types of “green cars” are.  You can also check out the Yahoo centre for reviews and rankings of cars.
Saving the planet using less fuel 

10. Keep your cruise control on whether you are off or on the motorway, as it automatically controls the speed of your vehicle to maintain a steady speed, and helps reduce fuel consumption.

11. Adopt good and safe driving habits, stay with the speed limit, and avoid sudden braking, jerking, as well as speeding as this leads to higher fuel usage

12. Understand and avoid the “severe conditions” (a term used by Filter Manufacturer’s Council) that lead to higher fuel usage and the requirement to change filters soon: frequent idling in stop and go traffic, sustained driving in extreme weather, towing or carrying heavy items, driving in dusty conditions, or in hilly terrain

13. Plan your trips, so you can complete your tasks in fewer drives, saving on fuel and emissions. Buy in bulk so you need to make fewer trips.  Also plan your routes, so you avoid the congested routes that slow your journey time. Consider driving only part of the way, say to the metro station and then take the underground train. It’s also healthier for you.

14. Go for regular car servicing and maintenance, to change your engine’s air-filters regularly, engine oil topped up, changing oil filters regularly, and use the right oil viscosity, so the vehicle is in proper shape and gives efficient MPG.

15. Check that your tires are properly inflated. Deflated tires consume more fuel. Go for radial tyres which are more fuel-efficient and last longer.

16. Use less of the air-conditioner as this brings down fuel efficiency. When the weather is fine, pull down the windows.

17. Get the extra load off the boot, if you are not using it, as this adds to fuel consumption.

18. Switch off the engine if you’re idling for more than one minute to conserve fuel.

Here’s a video that will help you reduce your fuel consumption with better driving habits:




These are some of the ideas from the new free ebook that will be made available on this website, “A Quicklist of 1001 Steps to Save the Planet”


PS: If you want to find out the carbon footprint of your car, here are some simple instructions from Yahoo

“Try to find the precise CO2 emissions of your car (or motorcycle, or whatever mode of transportation you use). The simplest way to do this is to enter ‘[car make and model] CO2 emissions g/km’ into a search engine. Car emissions are generally measured in grams of pollutant per kilometer, hence the ‘g/km’. For example, the Toyota Prius emits 104 g/km of CO2.”  You can find your annual carbon footprint by multiplying by the number of kms driven in the year.





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Posted by on Oct 2 2009. Filed under Carbon Footprint, Climate Change, Green Travel/Transport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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