Mob Box Paper N°4

How far would you travel with 5kg of CO2 ?

January 17, 2023

In this study, we examine a theoretical distance one could travel using various modes of transportation in Europe, emitting a fixed amount of CO2. Our calculations include the Life Cycle Assessment of each mode of transportation, and vary according to each European countries carbon intensity. All hypothesis, formulas and sources are available down this page.

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Our findings reveal some unexpected results :

  • an electric train in Sweden can travel further than an electric bike, due to the greater carbon footprint per individuals of manufacturing the bike and the very low footprint of traveling by train almost exclusively powered by renewables.
  • in Poland and Cyprus, carbon intensity is so high that driving a diesel car may be less detrimental than driving an electric car.
  • from Paris, France, driving a SUV you can barely get out of town (21 km) whereas a small electric car would drive you 3 times further to the beautiful wine cellars of Bourgogne (77km).

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How far can you go with 5kg of CO2 per person by:

  • Plane
  • Train
  • Electric Bicycle
  • Small Car = B segment Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle (ICEV)
  • Small Electric Car = B segment Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Medium Car = C segment ICEV
  • Medium Electric Car = C segment BEV
  • SUV = D segment ICEV
  • Electric SUV = D segment BEV


Data used are sourced from ADEME (The French Agency for Ecological Transition) for transport modes and from Electricity Maps for each country’s specific electricity carbon intensity in 2022.

Aggregated CO2 emissions are first expressed in a gCO2e/km unit and morphed into a km/kgCO2eq afterwards in order to express a distance based on a CO2 amount.

  • Sources of emissions

The estimate (in gCO2e/km) is split into 3 categories, which are:

  • Car “cradle to gate” manufacturing emissions +
  • Upstream fuel emissions +
  • Emissions in use

Present calculation do not take into account emissions from infrastructures such as roads, rails, airports, charging points, etc.

*Carbon intensity refers to gCO2eq released while producing a kilowatt hour of electricity (kWh). For example, 1kWh produced from fossil fuel will release 1014 gCO2eq while 1kWh produced from a windmill will emit 13 gCO2eq. more information on Electricity Maps.

**Data from ADEME have been updated with an average European occupancy rate. In addition, to be more representative of various electric trains, 3 train archetypes have been analyzed and then aggregated according to a breakdown of circulating trains in France.

***Car manufacturing data, sourced from ADEME, are based on an assumption of 150,000km life expectancy for a car. We adjusted them to a life expectancy of 200,000km as our own practice led us to take this number as our average for most cars (excluding unexpected early destructions).

  • Detour Factor

Distances were adjusted according to a “detour factor”, tailored to the transport mode used, which are:

*as it is the closest we can get to an Euclidean distance between 2 points for considered modes of transportation.

N.B: For urban travels cars have a higher detour factor than bicycles but on a country scale, it is quite the opposite as some linear infrastructures like highways are not available to bicycles.

  • Occupancy rate

In order to make everything up to par, the number of passengers for each mode of transport has been estimated on the basis of its average occupancy rate.

Modes of transportOccupancy rateAverage number of individuals per mode of transport
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