Environment. Train, bus, car, plane… what are the most polluting modes of transport?

This is a new provision in the Climate Act that was adopted last year. Guidance sites and applications will have to better inform users about the negative impact of their travels on the environment and their health, the government announced on Monday.

When a user wants to plan a trip, the result will show an estimate of the pollution caused by the amount of greenhouse gases and air pollutants (nitrogen oxides, PM10 particles) emitted by the different modes of transport that are proposed. In France, transport represents 39% of our total emissions.

What are the most virtuous ways to get around for the planet? Let’s take the example of a journey between Paris and Marseille, i.e. 775 kilometers by road (660 by plane). The agency ofEnvironmental and energy management (Ademe) has developed a practical tool to compare these impacts.

The train

After the classic cycle or walk, which are not accessible to everyone at such distances, the most ecological means of transport to get from Paris to Marseille is undoubtedly the train.

Your TGV journey will thus be issued (for one person) 1.73 gCO2e/kmit is 1.34 kgCO2and in total. This is a conversion of emissions into grams of CO2 equivalent. For example, 1 kg of methane corresponds to 28 kg of CO2. If the production of a product emitted 1 kg of methane and 1 kg of CO2then the total impact of this product is 29 kg CO equivalent2. Direct emissions as well as the production and distribution of fuel and electricity are included in the calculation. On the other hand, the construction of vehicles (cars, bicycles, batteries, trains, planes, etc.) and infrastructure (roads, rails, airports, etc.) is not included in the calculation.

Intercités trains emit more CO2 equivalent than TGV, i.e. 5.29 gCO2e/km/person and 4.11 kgCO2and in total. As well as the TERs who would refuse 24.8 gCO2e/km/personit is 19.2 kgCO2e for an unlikely Paris-Marseille trip (which is usually done by TGV). TER is well above the others due to the diesel locomotives on the non-electrified sections, which weigh down the average (as well as the thermal buses that are part of the TER offer), explains the climate popularization site Bon pote.

The electric car

The individual electric car logically emits more with a total CO2 equivalent 15.3 kg of CO2e either for one person in the cabin 19.8 gCO2e/km. So less in the case of carpooling. The data includes emissions related to electricity for charging the vehicle.

As with other modes of transport, they do not include vehicle manufacturing and emissions related to road infrastructure.

The bus

A bus running on diesel with 30 people on board will emit 35.2 gCO2e/km/person on a Paris-Marseille, or 27.3 kgCO2e Total.

If the same bus runs on natural gas, it will emit even more.

Electric buses are mainly used in urban areas to allow them to be charged.

The scheduled flight

For a Paris-Marseille, the plane is one of the most polluting modes of transport, as this route emits some 83.2 kgCO2e in total, or 230 gCO2e/km/person with the influence of the contrails. These are approximate emissions for an aircraft with 101 to 220 occupied seats.

“Because airplanes fly at high altitudes, the combustion of petroleum creates contrails and disrupts the cycle of greenhouse gases other than CO2 (water vapor, condensed water in various forms, NOx and methane, which together produce ozone, etc.)”, details Ademe on his page .

Private jets remain the champions of emissions: on average, these planes reject 10 times more carbon than a conventional plane and are 50 times more polluting than trains. The travels of jet-setting billionaires are increasingly scrutinized on social networks.

The individual thermal car

Finally, the individual thermomobile is probably the worst choice in terms of pollution. In total, an average newer 2018 car, with a single passenger on board, on this Paris-Marseille trip will emit a total of 150 kgCO2eit is 193 gCO2e/km. This is an average for all fuels. The data integrates the upstream and the combustion of the fuel. If there are several people in the car, the emissions are distributed per person accordingly.

The bike performs a little better with approx 130 kg of CO2e issued for a thermal two-wheeled engine larger than 250cm3, i.e. 168 gCO2e/km/person.

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