The carbon footprint of a litre of gas

April 2, 2013

Just how much greenhouse gas does a litre of fuel generate?

We’re often told that our vehicles generate a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, but how are we to know just what that means?

Here’s a quick guideline: every litre of gasoline burned produces 2.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide.  That equals about 100 kilograms for a 40 litre fillup (typical for a compact car).

There’s more.  The above figure doesn’t include emissions from drilling, extracting, transporting and refining that fuel, and then trucking it to the service station where you buy it.  Factor those in, and it’s more like 3 kilograms CO2/litre for gas.  If you consume 40 litres per week, that equals over six tonnes of emissions per year.  Many Canadians consume a lot more than 40 litres a week.

Every litre of diesel fuel burned produces 2.7 KG carbon dioxide; a similar 25% premium can be factored in for refining and other upstream emissions.

The bottom line: vehicle emissions ARE a huge part of our carbon footprint.  Why not reduce yours by walking, biking, driving less, driving an efficient vehicle, carpooling and taking transit.

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