Bicycling and walking
Bicycling and walking are the modes of transportation with the least production of carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Although the manufacturing of bicycles and bicycle parts does emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants, as does the production and transportation of the extra food bicyclists and pedestrians consume, the production of automobiles and other means of transportation release much more.
Use public transportation
By using public transportation, you help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the time you spend in you car. If you are planning to visit Point Reyes National Seashore, please consider the options on our Public Transportation page.)
Carpooling with just one other person means that there is one fewer vehicle on the roads. That vehicle won't be emitting greenhouse gases during that commute.
Think before you drive
If you own more than one vehicle, use the less fuel-efficient one only when you can fill it with passengers. Driving a full minivan may be kinder to the environment than two midsize cars. Whenever possible, though, join a carpool or take mass transit.
Buy the right car
Buying an automobile is an important decision, maybe the single most important environmental decision you will make, especially as it relates to greenhouse gas emissions. Consider whether you actually need a new vehicle or whether public transportation and renting vehicles for trips will suit your needs. The production of a new vehicle is very energy intensive, and most people in cities can generally get around fine using public transportation and by renting vehicles or participating in a car-share program for trips on vacations, weekends, and holidays. If you must buy a car, there are many factors to consider. One thing that every shopper may want to think about is purchasing an energy-efficient vehicle to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. When you buy your next car, look for the one with the best fuel economy in its class. Each gallon of gas a vehicle uses releases 20 to 25 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Better gas mileage not only reduces the severity of global warming, but will also save you thousands of dollars at the pump over the life of the vehicle. Americans could save 1.5 million barrels of fuel a day if fuel economy were improved by 5 mpg. Compare the fuel economy of the cars you're considering and look for new technologies like hybrid engines. Also important to think about is the energy put into making the car—often buying a used car with slightly lower fuel efficiency will use less energy over the lifetime that you have it than will a new car with higher fuel efficiency.
Participate in a car-share program
Car-share programs are becoming available in more and more cities. The idea is that most vehicles are only used a couple hours or less a day and many city residents rarely even need a vehicle. But, there are times when a city dweller may need a vehicle to haul furniture, to get out of the city for a weekend or more, or for some other reason. Rather than individually owning a vehicle for any contingency, car-share programs invite many individuals to buy a share of a number of vehicles. These vehicles would then be available for the share-holders to use. As an example, say there are fifty individuals who participate in this program and twenty-five of them need a truck or SUV several times a year. Rather than purchasing twenty-five trucks/SUVs plus twenty-five or more passenger vehicles as these fifty would do on an individual basis, the car-share program might buy five trucks/SUVs and fifteen passenger vehicles for these fifty people to use. In this example, this would save thirty or more vehicles from needing to be produced and save a large amount of gas because those who would have purchased a truck would now be able to use a truck when they need to and would have the use of a more fuel-efficient vehicle when they don't need to use a truck. For most, this arrangement is far less expensive than owning their own individual vehicle. And it reduces the number of vehicles in the already crowded cities as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Turn off your vehicle when you aren't moving—unless you are in traffic or at a stop light, of course. You may have been told that turning off and then restarting an engine consumes more fuel than just leaving it running, in addition to the wear and tear of starting the engine. This is not true with modern fuel-injected engines. If you are going to be waiting parked for more than a minute, you'll waste more fuel idling than you will by turning the engine off and restarting it when you need to get moving. You may also have learned that you need to "warm up the engine" before driving. Again, this was true for vehicles with carburetors, but is not as necessary with fuel-injected engines. Unless you live right next to a freeway or highway and need to almost immediately accelerate to 55 mph after getting moving, you generally will not need to "warm up the engine." Your vehicle’s engine will warm up enough for higher speed as you drive along the streets of your neighborhood. Check with your vehicle manufacturer for more details.
Keep you tires filled
You can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by about 275 pounds per year by making sure your tires are filled to the recommended pressure. You will also save up to 5 percent on your gasoline expenses and your car will ride smoother.
Last updated: September 16, 2021