Car Carbon Offsets: Eliminate Vehicular Carbon Emissions With Ease

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

August 18, 2021

Carbon offsets for cars and other vehicles are an essential tool for fighting environmental destruction, now that we understand the extent of the damage caused by car emissions.

So, hop in as we take you on a road trip where you’ll quickly learn what carbon offsets are, how to calculate your specific vehicle’s cancerous carbon footprint, and why taking action has never been easier… just a few clicks away.

A graphic image with energy plants releasing smoke in the background and a car with smoke in the shape of footprints being released from the tailpipe. The footprint of the smoke symbolizes that vehicle emissions leave a lasting carbon footprint on the environment.

Start Here: What Is a Carbon Offset?

Carbon Offsets are a relatively new form of climate activism, allowing both individuals and companies to “reverse” their carbon footprint by funding clean-energy projects and solutions around the world.

These offsets can be purchased for specific causes of CO2 emissions, like a round-trip international flight, the total emissions caused by a construction project, or carbon offsets for vehicles.

The proceeds from carbon offsets, like the Road Trip Carbon Offset, fund a wide range of clean-energy and carbon sequestration projects. Some of the most popular, high-impact carbon offset programs include reforestation initiatives and conservation education programs. Studies have shown that these offset programs effectively reduce greenhouse gases.

What are “Car” Carbon Offsets and How are They Different?

Carbon offsets for vehicles are designed to “balance out” the annual greenhouse gas emissions of a single consumer vehicle. For the average American, your car’s tailpipe is responsible for over 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. When you put it all together, that’s nearly one quarter of the United States’ total output.

Over the last few years, climate researchers have truly come to agree: Carbon emissions from cars are the biggest contributor to global warming. Car-specific carbon offsets are an effective way to reduce the impact of our daily travel.

Types of Travel and Impact on Carbon Footprint/Carbon Emissions

While personal cars and trucks are the most significant source of CO2 pollution, they’re not the only emissions that can be addressed with green carbon offsets. Here are a few more common forms of transportation, along with the average CO2 liability for each one:

  • Average mid-sized vehicle: 411 g CO2/m
  • Local bus: 132 g CO2/m
  • Regular taxi cab: 428 g CO2/m
  • Hybrid car: 96 g CO2/m
  • Average motorbike: 185 g CO2/m
  • Boats & Yachts: 21.5 LB CO2/ Gallon of gasoline
Calculate Your Vehicle’s Carbon Emissions (Down to the Last Drop of Toxic, Destructive Car Gas)

With the free Carbon Calculator for Cars, it’s remarkably easy to find out exactly how much CO2 your vehicle’s tailpipe is responsible for. Simply enter your vehicle information, including model and year of manufacture. Then enter the number of miles that you are looking to offset. The calculator will not only tell you how much carbon pollution your drive will create, most also provide a direct link to purchase a carbon offset for that amount.

Understanding the Carbon Emissions for the Most Popular Car Models

Just because your vehicle is fuel efficient doesn’t mean that it isn’t pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Here is a look at the average emissions per mile for some of the most gas-friendly cars on the marker:

  • Aston Martin: 394g/m
  • Porsche: 348g/m
  • Land Rover: 338g/m
  • Subaru: 332g/m
  • Lexus: 330g/m
  • Jeep: 324g/m

Source: Emissions Analytics, 2018

Q: How Much Carbon Dioxide Does a Car Produce?

A: The average passenger vehicle in the U.D. emits about 4.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. This is assuming a fuel economy of around 22 mpg and 11,500 total miles. Depending on the type of vehicle that you own and the amount that you drive, your car might have a carbon footprint that is far larger than this.

Q: How Much CO2 Does a Car Emit Per Mile?

A: According to research from the Environmental Protection Agency, the average passenger car produces around 411 grams of CO2 per mile. This depends on two major factors: 1. The fuel economy of the vehicle, and 2. The carbon content of the fuel being burned.

A Real “No-Brainer”: The Benefits of Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

  • You’re doing your part for the environment and future generations by sequestering the carbon emissions your car generates
  • Being more energy efficient can save you big money on gas and utilities
  • You’re supporting important green initiatives around the globe, strengthening communities and reducing the global emissions
  • Helping support wildlife rehabilitation and protection

Green Guide: 4 Ways to Reduce Your Car’s Carbon Footprint Right Now

You might not own an electric car just yet, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your current vehicle a little eco-friendlier. Here are some tips for immediately reducing your car’s carbon footprint:

  1. Practice “Eco-Driving”: Avoiding hard accelerating and braking can lower your highway mileage by an astonishing 33 percent.
  2. Limit Engine Idling: Don’t leave your car running if you don’t have to.
  3. Don’t go too fast: According to research from the Office of Energy Efficiency, traveling 60 mph instead of 70 mph can boost your car’s per-mile fuel efficiency by as much as 14 percent.
  4. Don’t skip out on maintenance: Earn more mileage gains by keeping your tires inflated, your oil clean, and your air filters regularly cleaned out or replaced.

READ MORE: For more tips on improving your car’s fuel efficiency, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s online guide to Driving More Efficiently.

Stop Eradicating Plants and Animals! Carbon Offset Programs Lead the Way

One of the reasons that carbon offsets are such an effective way to combat climate change is how easy they are to buy and the impact they have. With most carbon offset companies, it only takes a few minutes to calculate your carbon output, select the offset of your choice, and check-out online.

The most important part of the process, however, is choosing a reputable carbon offset program. Because carbon offsets are largely unregulated, some of the projects behind these organizations are more effective than others.

A graphic image with one car at a fuel pump and another car behind it releasing smoke from the tailpipe. The car at the fuel pump has a “bar graph” showing U.S. energy consumption as of 2019: petroleum = 37%, natural gas = 32%, nonfossil = 20% and coal = 11%. Then the car trailing behind shows energy related CO<sub>2</sub> emissions within the cars smoke cloud which is segmented into three areas: Petroleum = 46%, natural gas = 33%, coal = 21%.
Choosing a Certified Offset Program

Fortunately for consumers, there are a growing number of companies and programs dedicated to authenticating carbon offset programs. This makes it easier to choose a carbon offset that is making an actual difference, as opposed to one that might be wasting your money.

  • 8 Billion Trees is an innovative social enterprise using global reforestation projects as a primary means to reduce our overall carbon footprint. Carbon offsets purchased through 8 Billion Trees support forest-carbon projects in 20 different countries across the world.
  • Verified Carbon Standard (Verra) is one of the most well-respected authorities on climate action standards. Verra is dedicated to driving large-scale emissions reduction by developing, executing, and maintaining the standards used by both private companies and national governments.
  • Green-e Climate Standard is a third-party certification program that works specifically with carbon offset companies. The Green-e Climate program provides voluntary oversight to carbon offset companies, monitoring how these offsets are advertised and purchased. This program also verifies the clean-energy projects behind the offsets, protecting consumer funds from fraudulent or poorly-managed operations.

Watch out for offset scams! Make sure that when you buy carbon offsets for cars, you buy them from a respected source.

Keep Reading To Learn More About Carbon Offsets for Vehicles and Other Activities