For many of us, a plane is the number one way to get to a faraway destination. After all, it’s thought to be the most convenient way – you just turn up at the airport, board the plane and turn up hundreds of miles away. But could driving to your destination really be better for the planet than flying? Can we slow down climate change by taking the car?
That’s what four snowboarding friends wanted to find out. Two (plus a toddler) took a plane from Gatwick to Geneva, while two drove a Ford Mondeo Hybrid from their home in Brighton to the ski resort in La Plagne, near the border of France and Switzerland. In an interesting experiment, the couples found out which method of transport produced the least carbon dioxide emissions, and looked at which was quicker, cheaper, and most enjoyable.
As you’d expect, travelling by plane didn’t take as long as travelling by car. The flying team – James, Rosie and Charlie Beer – were at the resort about three hours before Jason and Carole Riahi got there in the car. But although the flight was only a couple of hours long, they needed plenty of extra time to get to the airport, take off and get their baggage.
That meant it was more stressful, especially with a toddler. It was much calmer in the Mondeo Hybrid. The Riahis could go at their own pace, and could stop at tourist attractions on the way if they wanted to. An extra benefit of the car, especially with bulky ski equipment, is that there isn’t a limit on the amount or weight of your luggage. In fact, two of the Beer family suitcases had to go in the Mondeo.
If you don’t mind the longer journey, going in the car is cheaper, too. Plane tickets can be quite expensive, plus you usually have to fork out for transfers to and from the airport, parking and sometimes more. Based on a rough online calculation, the Mondeo Hybrid used approximately £74 in fuel for a one-way trip, which could be cheaper than flying.
Equally interesting is the amount of CO2 emissions produced by each form of transport. Ford has worked out that the car produced 173kg of carbon dioxide in the journey, whereas the plane – often thought to be better as more people are travelling together – reportedly produced 350.8kg. That’s more than double!
Of course, the Mondeo Hybrid’s incredible efficiency is part of the reason why the difference is so great, but it suggests that travelling by car could be cheaper and better for the environment than flying in many cases.
Calculation: 737 miles from Brighton to La Plagne with the Mondeo Hybrid's claimed 58.9 miles per gallon and an average petrol price of £1.30 per litre provides a figure of £73.95
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