You want to be environmentally conscious right? Reduce your carbon footprint, do the right thing and save the polar bears? But in the back of your mind, you’ve always wanted that sports car you could never afford. That present you’d always promised yourself. But sports cars aren’t exactly the environment’s best friend are they? Can you really have the best of both worlds?

A Green Porsche

A Green Porsche

Well the answer is yes, and to demonstrate how I’m going to use two flatmates, Vegetarian Sam and Capitalist Rufus. They both work in central London, live in the suburbs and both require non-public transport at weekends, holiday in the same place and have very similar lifestyles. The only difference between them is the transport choices they make.

Sam takes the train (60.2g/km*) and bus (67.8g/km*) to work everyday. He has a 6 year old Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi (145 g/km*) which he drives at weekends.

Rufus rides a scooter (Vespa 50cc @ 72g/km**) to work and at weekends and refuses to use public transport. He (cue much teeth-sucking disapproval) also has a Porsche Boxster (227 g/km* for the weekends). And let’s try not to hate him just because he has a Porsche. Let’s pretend he uses it at the weekends to take old people to the seaside.

Sam and Rufus work in the same office everyday do exactly the same distance each year, so how can Rufus, the Porsche-driving capitalist scum be greener than his vegetarian, flip-flop wearing flatmate?

The Commute:

Sam and Rufus both travel from Clapham Junction to Liverpool Street every day. Sam takes the train to Waterloo (6.3km = 0.76 kg CO2) then the bus for (4.8 km = 0.65 kg CO2) giving a total of 1.41 kg per return journey.

Rufus goes direct door to door on his Vespa which is 8.9 km (compared to Sam’s 11.1km), producing 1.28 kg of CO2 for his return journey.

The Weekend:

Sam and Rufus both travel at the weekends, and they each rack up 4,000 miles per year driving in some form. Sam does all his miles in his Focus (934kg of CO2), whereas Rufus does 1,500 of these in his beloved Porsche taking old people to the seaside (548 kg of CO2), while the other 2,500 he does on his trusty scooter (290 kg of CO2), a grand total of 838kg.

The Total:

So where does that leave us?

CO2 Footprint Commute*** Weekends Total

Sam 310 kg 934 kg 1,244 kg

Rufus 282 kg 838 kg 1,120 kg

So vegetarian Sam takes public transport to work every day, drives an efficient diesel car but still has a 10% bigger carbon footprint than capitalist Rufus and his petrol guzzling Porsche even though they travel exactly the same distance.

So can you be green and drive a Porsche? Looks like it. It just goes to show that it’s not quite as simple as it seems to condone sports cars….


* / VCA car fuel data.

** Clear analysis

*** 220 days a year

So you want to reduce your carbon footprint right? But you still have to get from A to B and back again. So what’s the cleanest way to go in terms of CO2?

The obvious one is to walk or cycle. Both are essentially carbon neutral, though if you were really being pedantic, you could say that the extra effort does make you breathe a bit harder. But its not a lot.

However, what if you have to go a bit further? Out of range of leg power? Your first suggestion might be the bus, maybe a train? Perhaps if you have to drive, then take the Toyota Prius? Well it’s not quite that straightforward, and the results might surprise you…

How clean is your commute?

CO2 g/km by mode of transport

So what does this mean?

Well, if you’re going a long way and want to cut your footprint, don’t bother with the train. Instead give National Express a call and hop on.

And how about occupancy? For example, 2 people on a 50cc scooter would be pretty slow, but at 36 g/km its even cleaner than a coach. 4 people in a VW Polo Bluemotion? Less than 25g/km each. To put that in context, a Bentley Continental GT with 1 person is 410 g/km.

And that cab you took home last night after too many beers? Ouch…

Data Sources / Notes:

1. Sources of data: VCA car fuel data, analysis, DEFRA, TFL, Going Green.

2. Flight figures do not include any form of radiative forcing index.

3. G-Wiz figure is an equivalent CO2 figure if the electricity is produced from the national grid.

4. All bikes are 4-stroke.

Note: This blog is written on behalf of Clear the carbon offset company.