Car CO₂ Emissions

Curious about our CO₂ emissions, I decided to look into what our cars put out. CO₂ emissions are directly related to fuel economy and miles driven. According to the Energy Information Administration*, burning one gallon of fuel creates several times the fuel’s weight in CO₂:

Car Fuel lbs CO₂/gal (*EIA) mpg (lifetime) miles/year tons CO₂/year
Beetle diesel 22.384 40.8 6,053 1.66
Prius gasoline 19.564 45.1 15,720 3.42

Google Spreadsheets provides a fun gauge chart tool to illustrate our emissions.


CO₂ emissions, lbs/mi

According to some folks better at the ideal gas law than I, The half-pound of CO₂ associated with driving a mile in our cars has a volume in the atmosphere of about 4 ft³. We’re all filling up the air with greenhouse gases, one mile at a time, unfortunately.

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