we explore how do cars contribute to global warming?

How Do Cars Contribute to Global Warming?


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How do cars contribute to global warming? This question becomes more pertinent every day given the climate crisis and that the vast majority of us own at least one car. Let’s face facts – we all need to get from A to B daily, yet the use of vehicles factors heavily into the climate emergency we’re facing.

Work, education, appointments, weekend outings, etc., plus a busy routine of cooking, tidying and life in general simply doesn’t leave that much time to spare. Besides tight schedules and getting around on time there’s also the fact that many of us love the driving experience.

Getting behind the wheel is somewhat liberating. Cars provide us with a mini home-away-from-home that takes us to some awesome places too.

So back to the initial question, how much do cars actually contribute to climate change – and what can we as drivers do? Turns out quite a lot…

Car emissions and global warming in Australia

According to the Climate Council, transport is Australia’s third biggest greenhouse gas producer. To be precise, 17% of total emissions in Australia are caused by transport. A Climate Analytics report on Australia’s climate factsheets for vehicle emissions concurs, saying:

Cars currently represent the largest source of transport emissions in Australia. Car emissions have grown by 25% since 1990.

Humans are creatures of habit, and in no way, shape or form are we suggesting you stop driving. However, there are ways to make your car work for you and vice versa. Cars aren’t the enemy, but our dependence on them and how often we use them may just be.

Read about the 2035 ban on petrol and diesel cars in Australia.

3 ways to reduce car emissions and global warming

Rather than simply asking how cars contribute to global warming, we put it to you that we should be asking how to reduce car emissions and therefore, global warming. We’ve rounded up some everyday suggestions you can easily add to your regime:

1. Drive intelligently

Driver wonders how cars contribute to global warming

Like most things, driving can be done in a positive way or a negative way. How you drive affects the climate, there’s no doubt about that.

Your bad driving behaviours aren’t isolated (you and the millions of other drivers can collectively make a difference) but change begins with the self. To that end, keep these tips top of mind when behind the wheel:

These lifestyle changes to the way you drive and approach your car in general may seem small. But if we all do even one or two of them, our better driving habits can reduce the effect on climate change.

2. Choose the right car

A woman buys the best car to limit contribution to global warming

It’s not just about how you drive, but also what you drive. In a world of options choosing the best vehicle to limit your car’s contribution to global warming can be daunting. That’s why we’ve put together a guide on the best small cars and the most fuel efficient cars in Australia right now. This includes petrol, diesel, electric options.

BTW, the verdict on electric cars is still out. Especially because Australia uses coal to generate most of its electricity. Electricity is then used to charge most electric cars, which basically means we’re still using fossil fuel.

Due to its reliance on coal-fired power, Australia is one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita.

UN News

Another major issue is that the carbon footprint of producing an electric car is still higher than a petrol car. This is precisely why we’re leaning towards better driving habits, certain types of hybrid cars (contact us to find out which ones we insure) and point three above. Speaking of which, here’s a great suggestion…

3. Walk and cycle (don’t always drive)

cycling limits climate change

One of the biggest tricks our minds play on us is that because we have a car we have to drive it. As in always and everywhere. But that absolutely isn’t the case.

Dropping just one or two weekly drives can majorly impact how cars contribute to global warming in a positive way. If you think about it, one of the biggest issues humans are faced with is using energy without generating energy.

A simple walk to the shops or a cycle to work, instead of simply hopping into your car isn’t just good for the planet – it’s good for you too. Because you’re actually producing energy while using it (and getting fitter)!

With the recent United Nations Climate Report in hand, Australia is having to look at ways to reduce our emissions. We all should start driving less, now.

Climate action UN report

In Australia, we’re seeing the effects of climate change in the extreme. Fires, floods and drought seem to be in constant rotation. And if that wasn’t enough, the obvious positive environmental effects of worldwide COVID lockdowns puts another fire under our boots to add to the heat.

According to the UN Climate report, the “average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history” over the decade preceding the pandemic (2010-2019). Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach. 

“Australia can contribute its fair share in limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees. But only if we act now.”

Climateworks Centre

Clearly climate change is something we all need to buy into. It needs to become part of the fabric of our daily lives, a fact as simple as breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.

Car insurance for wind, rain and shine

Another way to keep your driving life in the green is by having car insurance. With the catastrophic floods, fires and droughts, your car is certainly at risk of taking a beating. Thankfully, comprehensive car insurance will help cover the costs of replacement and repair for most bad weather related issues. And for theft. And driving incidents (like if someone bumps your car). There are plenty more benefits and add-ons too.

Keep your car happy with a great and affordable plan. Click below to start today.

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