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US Autos Account for Half of Cars Global Heating

U.S. Autos Account for Half of Global Heating Linked to Cars Worldwide

U.S. automobiles and light trucks are responsible for almost half of all greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally, according to a fresh probe by Environmental Defense.

The explore, Global Heating on the Road [PDF], also found that the Big Three automakers—General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler—accounted for almost three-quarters of the carbon dioxide released by cars and pickup trucks on U.S. roads in 2004, the latest year for which statistics were available.

“Cutting greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. automobiles will be critical to any strategy for slowing global heating,” said John DeCicco, author of the report and senior fellow at Environmental Defense, in a press release. “To address global heating, we’ll need a clear picture of what sources are contributing to the problem. This report details, by automaker and vehicle type, the greenhouse gas contributions from America’s auto sector, for the very first time.”

Excessive Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Carbon dioxide emissions from individual vehicles in the United States equaled three hundred fourteen million metric tons in 2004. That much carbon could pack a coal train 55,000 miles long—long enough to circle the Earth twice.

Cars and trucks made by GM gave off ninety nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide or thirty one percent of the total; Ford vehicles emitted eighty million metric tons or twenty five percent; and DaimlerChrysler vehicles emitted fifty one million metric tons or sixteen percent, according to the report.

Why U.S. Cars Emit More Carbon Dioxide

While Americans own only thirty percent of the seven hundred million vehicles that are in use worldwide, the authors of the report found that cars in the U.S. account for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions because they are driven further, have lower fuel economy standards, and burn fuel with higher levels of carbon than many of the cars in other countries.

  • U.S. cars and light trucks were driven Two.6 trillion miles in 2004, the equivalent of ten million trips from the earth to the moon.
  • U.S. automobiles had an average fuel economy of Nineteen.6 miles per gallon in 2004, for an average annual consumption of just over six hundred gallons of gasoline.
  • Gasoline in the United States contains Five.Three pounds of carbon per gallon. All of that carbon completes up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide in automobile harass when the fuel is burned. So the average car in the U.S. puts more than 1.Five tons of carbon into the air every year.

Drivers have no control over the amount of carbon in the gasoline they buy, but they can control the other two key factors by reducing the number of miles they drive each year and choosing to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles. [For more driving tips that can help you reduce greenhouse gas emissions, see Drive Clever: Fuel Savings Add Up.]

Puny Cars Emit More Carbon Dioxide Than SUVs

The explore by Environmental Defense found some other surprising facts:

  • Despite the proliferation of SUVs, puny cars such as compacts and subcompacts still account for twenty five percent (77 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide emissions on the road. The reason is elementary: puny cars were the top-sellers for a long time, and cars tend to stay on the road for many years.
  • Albeit SUVs presently trail petite cars as sources of carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global heating (67 million metric tons or twenty one percent of all U.S. auto emissions), they will soon be in very first place and will remain a leading cause of global heating on U.S. roads for many years.
  • The average fresh car, led by private trucks, emits more carbon dioxide than many older cars still in use, so the idea of simply getting rid of older cars to reduce on-road emissions won’t solve the problem.

“Reducing global heating on the road is a collective responsibility,” DeCicco said in a press release. “By underscoring the magnitude of emissions from America’s automobiles, this report shows that all actors – automakers, fuel providers, consumers, and various levels of government – can help solve the problem by addressing those aspects of CO2 emissions they can control.”

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