Transport accounts for around 20% of overall greenhouse gas emissions in Finland, and private cars are the biggest contributor at 15%. Today, the most commonly used fuels in cars are gas and diesel. On average, a gas-driven car emits 159 g CO2eq/km. The typical Finn drives 11 350 km per year, which means that our car usage only generates 1.8 tons of CO2eq per person – that’s one fifth of our individual carbon footprint.
Trains, metros, trams and buses are fairly climate-friendly alternatives compared to driving a car, since the emissions are shared by a large number of passengers. Flying on the other hand causes much more emissions than many other means of transport. For example, a trip from Helsinki to Rovaniemi causes 144 kg CO2eq per person by airplane, compared to 6 kg CO2eq per person by train. If we fly really far away, let’s say to Thailand, our yearly emissions can suddenly increase by 30%.
So how can we reduce our emissions from transportation? The best alternative by far is by increasing walking and biking. When the distance gets too long, public transport is a good alternative. By using public transport instead of a car, you can reduce your emissions from transport by 70%. Here, local authorities can help by making sure public transport is a viable alternative, and that the bike lanes are kept in good shape. Politicians can also help increase the use of biofuels and boost the number of charging stations for electric vehicles. But in the end, it is us consumers that decide which transport methods to use and where to go. There are some emissions you can avoid altogether by not making a certain trip or by taking your bike instead of your car. Others can be reduced by for example using public transport. And for those trips you can’t or don’t want to avoid, there is offsetting!