With millions of vacationers and business travelers on the road, in the skies, or on the high seas each year, the environmental impact of travel on local ecosystems, water, air, and wildlife can be significant. Most trips involve travel by plane, car, or another form of fossil fuel-intensive transportation, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to global warming.
Traveling by car, and particularly a hybrid or other green car, produces fewer CO2 emissions than plane travel: you could drive for about 12,000 miles, and still release less CO2 than a single transatlantic flight. Even so, because there are so many vehicles on the road, motor transportation is responsible for about one-third of CO2 emissions in the US with cars and light trucks accounting for a majority.
For every gallon of gas a car burns, it emits nearly 20 pounds of CO2. Thus, a 3,000-mile drive in a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon produces 3,000 pounds of CO2. Together cars, SUVs, and minivans, driven for work or pleasure, at home or out of state, emit more than 300 million tons of carbon each year in the US. This amount is equivalent to the emissions generated by a 50,000-mile-long coal train—which would reach between Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles 17 times.
Although hiring a green rental car, limo, or car service (with hybrid, biodiesel, electric, or flex-fuel technology) may be a short-lived experience, those miles traveled will help curb these carbon emissions. Most major vehicle rental companies, as well as many new, small transportation companies, now offer these eco-friendly vehicle options.