Jens Borken-Kleefeld , Jan Fuglestvedt , and Terje Berntsen
Environ. Sci. Technol., Just Accepted Manuscript
Publication Date (Web): June 13, 2013
Copyright © 2013 American Chemical Society
The climate impact from a long-distance trip can easily vary by a factor of 10 per passenger depending on mode choice, vehicle efficiency, and occupancy. In this paper we compare the specific climate impact of long-distance car travel with coach, train or air trips. We account for both, CO2 emissions and short-lived climate forcers. This particularly affects the ranking of aircraft’s climate impact relative to other modes. We calculate the specific impact for the Global Warming Potential and the Global Temperature change Potential, considering time horizons between 20 and 100 years, and compare with results accounting only for CO2 emissions. The car’s fuel efficiency and occupancy are central whether the impact from a trip is as high as from air travel or as low as from train travel. These results can be used for carbon-offsetting schemes, mode choice and transportation planning for climate mitigation.