When purchasing a new car, do you think of global warming?

Car purchase graphic

More than a quarter of carbon pollution comes from transportation, so driving less is important, but choosing a more fuel-efficient vehicle helps, too.

Schoettle: “We’ve got hundreds of millions of vehicles in the United States, and they’re driven trillions of miles every year, so that obviously adds up pretty quickly when it comes to emissions from transportation.”

Brandon Schoettle is a project manager at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. His team studies light-duty vehicles, a category that includes passenger cars, SUVs, and pick-up trucks.

Brandon Schoettle
Brandon Schoettle

The fuel economy of these vehicles is improving as a result of new federal standards. But their average efficiency today is 21 miles per gallon. Increasing that by just ten miles per gallon will lower transportation emissions by five percent.

Your driving style can have an impact too.

Schoettle: “Things like aggressive driving, high-speed driving, these are things that can add up quickly in terms of reducing your average fuel economy.”

Speeding up and slowing down more gradually can improve gas mileage, as can choosing routes that are flatter and less congested.

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Together, with more efficient vehicles, these changes put us on the road to a cleaner environment.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Car purchase graphic: Copyright protected.

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Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...