Hybrid Vehicles

How did I do on my Hybrid on CO2 emissions in 2015?


My hybrid vehicle and I

I remember the moment like it was yesterday—I had decided to purchase a hybrid vehicle. One of the reasons I chose this type of car was that I wanted to do my part to limit the carbon dioxide, or CO2 emissions  produced by the fossil fuels associated with internal combustion engines.  In the ten years since my purchase, I thought there would be value in trying to get a measure of what I have accomplished.

My calculation of CO2 Emissions

The key measurement would be how many tons of carbon dioxide I prevented from being emitted into the atmosphere by driving a hybrid vehicle.

My first step was checking by bills, from which I determined I spent over $2,000 on gasoline in 2015. The average price of gasoline in California where I live was $3.16 per gallon. This means that I purchased around 650 gallons of gasoline, assuming I used every drop of gasoline I purchased during 2015. Research indicated that a hybrid uses 25% less gasoline than its internal combustion engine counterpart.

My Reasoning

A greenhouse gas (GHG) is any gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and re‐emits heat, keeping the planet’s atmosphere warmer than it would be otherwise. The main GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and ozone. GHGs occur naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere, but human activities, like the burning of fossil fuels by automobiles, are increasing the levels of GHGs in the atmosphere, causing global warming and climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most common GHG emitted by human activities in terms of the quantity released and the total impact on global warming.

What I accomplished

All told, I prevented two tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted in 2015.  As a rough estimate, the average American car emits seven tons of CO2 in a year, so for this purpose I will consider my carbon dioxide emission for 2015 to be five tons. An electric vehicle (EV) uses no gasoline, which would have allowed me to avoid releasing any CO2 into the atmosphere. For this reason, my next vehicle after my hybrid dies will be an EV. Since I own a Toyota, which are known to be reliable, it might be while before I make that EV purchase.