How car sharing reduces carbon emissions

Carbon emissions are something we hear a lot about every day. It’s essentially another way of referring to overall greenhouse gas emissions, the main one of which is carbon dioxide (CO2). 

By now, we all know the damaging effect these emissions are having on the planet and the importance of reducing them.  With many people now focussed on looking at ways to cut emissions in everyday life, how can decisions about travel play a role?

Transport is a major cause of carbon emissions across the globe. In a report from 2020, the IEA (International Energy Agency) found that transport was responsible for 24% of direct CO2 emissions, demonstrating a clear need for reduction.

On an individual level, many people are making efforts to fly less and take fewer journeys, but for those journeys that are still needed, shared rather than owned transportation is one important way emissions can be saved.  

Every car shared takes ten off the road.  When you consider that the production of each car uses more than two years of road emissions it’s easy to see that the possible emissions savings via car sharing are huge. That means that peer to peer car sharing sites like Karshare can help reduce emissions for both car owners looking to make some extra cash - and drivers looking to rent a car.

'The shedding effect demonstrates how car sharing could be a solution to reducing carbon emissions and facilitating sustainable mobility behaviours'

Some studies have explored the effect that car sharing has on ‘car shedding’. This is where car owners get rid of their current vehicle(s) and rely on different transport models for journeys they would otherwise have made in a private vehicle. One study on car sharing found that some participants sold their only car after using a car sharing service, and a slightly higher percentage had sold their second car too. The study found that this shedding effect demonstrates how car sharing could be a solution to reducing carbon emissions and facilitating sustainable mobility behaviours.

Similarly, a study in San Francisco found that car sharing members in urban areas owned significantly fewer vehicles than those who didn’t share cars. Those who owned vehicles were more likely to have one with a smaller environmental footprint, such as an electric or hybrid car.

On a simpler basis, fewer cars owned can lead to fewer cars manufactured. The production of an average European car typically generates around 7.2 tonnes of CO2 which is more than 2 years worth of road emissions, so any reduction in the number of new cars being manufactured is a positive. As a renter, making use of existing cars in your community means you aren’t renting from a company that is putting more purpose bought rental cars on the road. And if you’re sharing your car within your community, then you might be the reason that someone else is able to car shed or go completely car free! 

For ideas on reducing carbon emissions aside from transport, read our top tips to lower your carbon footprint.