Cars produce nearly a fifth of household greenhouse gas emissions…

One of the best things you can do for the planet is to drive less. Not owning a car saves you money (a typical car costs about $7,500 a year to run) while cycling and walking are also great for your health.

Even if Australia’s sprawling suburbs and patchy public transport can often make it hard to manage without a car entirely, but you can still try to drive less, choose a fuel-efficient car and learn fuel-efficient driving.

Car facts

l Road traffic accounts for 16 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gases.

l CO2 emissions from transport in Australia have risen by a third since 1990

Killer on the road

Road accidents kill about 1,600 people a year in Australia and more than a million worldwide. It has been estimated that traffic-related air pollution contributes to three times more deaths.

cars: key steps

1.      Don’t drive to work. Commute by public transport, car-pool with colleagues or neighbours, cycle or use a scooter (try an electric one). And if it’s possible, work from home some days.

2.      Reduce short car trips. Half of car journeys are less than 3km, but car engines are least efficient while still warming up. Replace a few car trips by walking and cycling (or even skateboarding). Combine errands. Shop locally or online. Put a basket on your bike for local shopping trips.

3.      Avoid gas guzzlers. Make the next car that you buy a smaller and more fuel-efficient model. $

4.      Learn fuel-efficient driving. It can reduce fuel consumption by up to a third. $

5.      Join campaigns for better public transport and cycle networks.

6.      Get on the bus. Start by working out one regular journey you can do by bus and make it a habit. $

want to do more

q See if there’s a car club near you. You pay a monthly fee and book a car by the hour. $

q Recycle motor oil (

q Buy products made from recycled tyres. Use old tyres to make kids’ swings, plant beds, etc.

q Use biodiesel – make your own from cooking oil (

q Buy an electric hybrid car such as the Toyota Prius or Honda Civic – half the CO2 emissions of similar-sized petrol cars.

q Don’t drive the kids to school. Instead, send your children to the nearest school so they can walk or cycle, and propose your school starts a walking school bus scheme.

Fuel-efficient driving

q Reduce cruising speeds by 20km/h.  

q Keep your car serviced and your tyres correctly inflated.

q Anticipate traffic changes to brake and accelerate smoothly.

q Shut your windows at higher speeds and remove your roof-rack when your are not using it to improve aerodynamics.

q Take out baggage to lighten the car.  

q Turn the engine off if you are stationary for more than 15 seconds.

q Try to avoid stop-start peak hour traffic.  

q Limit air-conditioning and heating.


What a waste!
In a typical car three-quarters of fuel is wasted as engine heat and up to 95 per cent of the rest simply moves the weight of the car itself. As little as 1 or 2 per cent is being used to get you to your destination.

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