Science Group Releases First-Of-Its-Kind Guide to Low-Carbon Vacation Transportation

For Immediate Release

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
Contact: 

Aaron Huertas, 202-331-5458

Science Group Releases First-Of-Its-Kind Guide to Low-Carbon Vacation Transportation

Motor Coaches, Trains Are Often Greenest; Best Options Shift With Number of Travelers and Distance

WASHINGTON - Vacationers looking to reduce their contribution to global warming
now have a new tool to help them choose their greenest travel option.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today released a
first-of-its-kind consumer guide that compares the carbon footprints of
a range of domestic travel options, including motor coaches (intercity
buses), trains, planes, cars, and SUVs.
 

"Vacation travel can generate a surprising amount of global
warming pollution," said Jim Kliesch, a UCS senior engineer and primary
author of the guide. He noted, for example, that a family of four
flying first class from Chicago to Orlando via Houston could emit
substantially more carbon dioxide than the sum of the parents' weekday
commutes over an entire year. 

"Getting There Greener: The Guide to Your Lower-Carbon Vacation"
found that motor coaches are generally the greenest vacation travel
option. Likewise, trains -- especially ones that run on electricity --
are often a particularly clean travel choice. The peer-reviewed UCS
analysis revealed counter-intuitive findings as well. For example, the
best options for green travel can shift significantly depending on the
number of people traveling and distance traveled. 

"Wherever you're headed and however you're getting there," Kliesch
said, "this new guide can help you make informed choices that better
protect the environment."
 

UCS researchers calculated the amount of carbon dioxide generated
per trip for distances ranging from 100 to 3,000 miles. Americans
travel an average of 1,200 miles on a typical vacation, according to
the Travel Industry Association. Since trip emissions also depend on
the number of passengers traveling, UCS evaluated data for solo
travelers, couples and families of four. An easy-to-use chart
summarizing the findings is available in the full report at www.ucsusa.org/gettingtheregreener.
 
"More and more people want to go green," said UCS Executive
Director Kathy Rest. "Until now, green travel has been about where
you're going. In fact, how you get there is just as important."
 

In addition to the carbon pollution comparison chart, the report offers tips for each mode of travel, including: 

--Motor coaches often are the greenest option. A couple traveling
on a motor coach will generate nearly 50 percent less global warming
pollution than they would driving a fuel-efficient hybrid car. 

--Big SUVs and first-class flights generally pollute the most. A
passenger occupying a first-class seat is responsible for twice as much
carbon dioxide pollution as one in a standard coach seat. To shrink a
vacation carbon footprint, travelers should avoid these options. 

--For couples and solo travelers, a nonstop coach flight almost
always beats an average car. Air travel is often assumed to be the
worst option for vacation travel, but auto pollution can add up,
especially when vacationers drive long distances or travel with few
passengers. If traveling alone or with one other person, vacationers
are usually better off flying direct in coach than getting behind the
wheel. This is especially true for trips of more than 500 miles.
 

--Rent more m.p.g. If vacationers do not own a fuel-efficient
vehicle, they should consider renting one for longer trips. A large,
inefficient SUV emits nearly four times the global warming pollution of
a highly efficient hybrid such as a Toyota Prius. If hybrids are not
available, travelers should consider an efficient conventional car,
which will cut pollution and fuel costs. Many car rental agencies now
offer both efficient conventional vehicles and low-polluting hybrids.
 

--Vacationers should schedule their trip wisely. Sitting in
traffic eats up gas, which means more global warming pollution.
Altering vacation schedules to avoid peak travel periods can save
consumers time and money -- and cut pollution.
 

For more information and other mode-specific tips, see the
"Getting There Greener" brochure and full report, available free online
at www.ucsusa.org/gettingtheregreener.

 

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

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