How much do you know about the impact of cars on the environment?

Your car and greenhouse gases

The average Australian car travels approximately 13,500km per year, emitting around 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

A major greenhouse gas, CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat from the sun, preventing it from being re-emitted back into space. Natural CO2 levels make the planet livable, while increasing CO2 causes the planet to heat up.

Approximately 15% of Australia's CO2 emissions are from cars and light commercial vehicles and are directly tied to fuel use:

  • 1 litre petrol = 2.3kg of CO2
  • 1 litre LPG = 1.6kg of CO2
  • 1 litre diesel = 2.7 kg of CO2

Cars and air pollution

Air pollution describes the mix of chemicals, particles and biological material in the air. Increased air pollution increases the risks of respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

In Perth, the major air pollution problem is photochemical smog, one of the most significant pollution problems facing many cities around the world, characterised by high concentrations of ground-level ozone.

Ozone is formed when oxides of nitrogen and reactive organic compounds react together for a few hours under the influence of sunlight and high temperatures.

Vehicles contribute approximately half of the carbon monoxide (CO) pollution and the majority of the oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in Perth.

As Perth continues to grow, without action congestion and the number of kilometres travelled will increase. This will increase the volume of harmful emissions, negatively impacting Perth's air quality. Minimising the impact of vehicles on the environment remains a serious challenge.

Cars and resource use

Manufacturing, operating and maintaining vehicles require non-renewable resources such as metals, petroleum (for plastics and fuel) and other fossil fuels (for example, coal for production of electricity). Producing and disposing of these resources can cause damage.

Recycling used car parts and materials reduces the one-way flow of resources and the volume of material going to landfill.

Electricity generation sources and electric vehicles

Electric cars have zero tailpipe emissions while driving, helping to reduce harmful emissions.

On average over the past 10 years, Western Australia has been powered by approximate 51 per cent coal, 40 per cent natural gas and 8.7 per cent wind and other renewable generation sources. With an increasing share of wind in recent years. 

An ongoing shift to renewable electricity generation sources will ensure electric vehicles produce even less emissions.

You can check the daily electricity generation breakdown at the Australian Electricity Market Operator’s website at any time.