Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in Canada, accounting for about 25% of total emissions. Environment Canada has estimated that for every 2,000 litres of gasoline consumed, the average car produces 4,720 kg of carbon dioxide, 186.6 kg of carbon monoxide, 28 kg of volatile organic compounds and 25.6 kg of nitrogen oxides.
What is one tonne of GHG? One tonne equals 1,000 kilograms. The volume of one tonne of GHGs would fill a two-storey, three-bedroom house.
Every year, each Canadian produces an average of over five tonnes of GHG:
- Passenger Road Transportation 49.9%
- Space Heating and Cooling 29.0%
- Water Heating 11.1%
- Appliances 7.5%
- Lighting 2.4%
If you own a car, about half of your GHGs likely come from driving.
Cars and trucks on our roads are responsible for about 18% of Canada’s total GHGs. Every year, motor vehicles release more than 134 million tonnes of GHGs into the atmosphere. In urban areas, vehicle exhaust can account for up to two-thirds of smog-producing pollutants. Smog is particularly harmful to the health of children, the elderly and people with cardio-respiratory problems.
Every litre of gasoline used by your vehicle produces 2.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2), a major source of GHG.
Idling for 10 minutes a day can produce about a quarter tonne of CO2 emissions each year and cost you about $70 in wasted fuel. If you stop for more than 10 seconds, except in traffic, turn off your engine and save.
One city bus filled with passengers can take 40 vehicles off the road and keep about 50 tonnes of GHGs out of the atmosphere each year. Most urban Canadians can purchase a full year’s travel on public transit for less than $1,000.
Owning and operating a typical car costs almost $9,000 a year. Passenger road transportation accounts for 49.9 percent of personal GHG emissions in Canada.
Driving 10 percent less, by walking, cycling, carpooling, or taking public transit, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.2 to 0.8 tonnes per year, depending on the vehicle. Car-related health costs in Canada are now estimated to be over $1 billion annually.
Transit vehicles are up to six times more energy efficient than the private automobile, both in terms of vehicle emissions and number of people transported.