Three Journeys: Climate Impact, Cost, and Efficiency
Updated: Apr 7
At Capture, our initial focus is helping you calculate CO2 emissions from the transportation choices you make. Every day, I am sure you are faced with a multitude of decisions. How will you travel to work to ensure the shortest and most affordable commute? To your child’s sports event? Will you fly or take a train/bus to a friend’s destination wedding? These are all important questions. They have been made even more important because every single choice will have an impact on our future climate.
Tourism accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions, whilst transport accounts for 27% of all CO2 emissions within the EU. Whilst we all recognise the problem on a larger scale, it can be really difficult to understand the impact your personal daily transportation choices can have...
With the Capture app, you will be able to track the impact of all your mobility choices, and in this article, we wanted to help get the ball rolling on some comparisons between different modes of travel.
We will start with some simple scenarios in order to highlight the more sustainable ways of traveling versus the ones that produce more harmful emissions. Ultimately, it is your choice on how to travel - but it’s best to know your options first! We break it down with cost, time, and levels of sustainability.
Keep in mind that the costs of the tickets of traveling were determined in mid-January 2020 and will change depending on the traveling season and the timing in which they were booked.*
The first scenario: Europe: Rome → Munich
The first option (and the one we think will come to people’s minds first) is to fly. If you were leaving on the 30th of January with airline Lufthansa, you hop on a plane in Rome at 9:30 a.m. until 11:05 am, a 1.5 hour flight, and find yourself in Munich for 99 dollars. Sounds easy, right? The CO2 emissions of that economy flight would be 161.47KG.
The next option is the bus for $65 using Omio. You can take two buses, the first one being an 8 hour journey, the second being a 7 hour one. You would have a layover (3 hours long) which would make the journey 18 hours long. The total emissions for this trip would be approximately 45KG of CO2.
Lastly, we have the train. There are two choices: according to Rail Europe, the average travel time between Rome and Munich is 10 hours and 30 minutes. The quickest route is 9 hours. A first-class ticket is $288 and a second-class ticket is $156. There is a cheaper option - $132 for a second-class ticket and $260 for a 1st class one. With either option, you are contributing approximately 24 KG of CO2.
The bus is the longest journey, but also the most affordable and most environmentally-friendly option. If you can afford the ticket, you will be most comfortable on a train. The plane, while being less expensive than the train, is the worst for the environment. These are all factors that you must consider when planning a trip, even one with a relatively short distance as this one.
Second scenario: USA: New York → Maryland
According to Rome2Rio, the train would be 2 hours and 40 minutes and will cost you $172 (4.8 KG of CO2). A bus, with a layover in Baltimore, would be 4 hours long and cost you between $26-$39 (9.6 KG CO2).
The drive, with no traffic, which is rare, would cost $18-$27 and take you 3 hours and 20 minutes (56KG of CO2)
Last, but not least, an economy flight to DC or Baltimore would be $120. You would generate 117.934KG of CO2. From there, you can drive to Maryland, which is approximately a 30 minute drive (8.4 KG CO2), depending on where specifically in Maryland you are traveling to. From this, we can deduce that the more sustainable and affordable options is to carpool or to take a bus if you’re planning this trip or any similar ones in the US, as it is a place known for its scenic road trips.
Third scenario: Asia: Singapore → Thailand
According to Rome2Rio, there are two sensible options here: flight or train. The economy flight is around 2 hours and 20 minutes and will cost between $50 and $120, emitting 348.35KG. Yikes.
A bus journey would take approximately 29 hours and would cost between $43-$56 (91 KG CO2). There is also a combination of bus and train transport that would take 30 hours and cost $51- $109.
This journey may feel incredibly long, but in the name of enjoying the journey and traveling slower, we recommend this, depending on your ability to endure long journeys. It is simultaneously affordable and great for the environment, with a chance to enjoy the stops along the way.
Let us repeat ourselves - no one is perfect. We are not preaching that you should choose the slower route every time, but we urge you to consider it. At the very least, we hope we've helped you learn a little more about your impact.
Take a look at the slow travel trend for some more inspiration!