According to the national targets, transport emissions will be reduced by 70% over the next 10 years and Sweden will be completely emission-free by 2045. Today, a third of Sweden’s total climate impact originates from transport. Much of the emissions are due to our everyday trips, with the car as the biggest culprit. Cars running on fossil fuel also result in smog formation, i.e., air pollution, which is both toxic to humans and harmful to the environment. Additionally, there is wear and tear of tires. The wear and tear mean that microplastics that contain environmentally and health-hazardous substances end up in nature and watercourses, and finally in our drinking water.
Environmentally friendly cars and emission classes for cars
- The government tightened the requirements for environmentally friendly cars on 1 July 2020 (in Swedish). Today, a environmentally friendly car should emit a maximum of 70 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer or being powered by gas. With some exceptions for e.g., emergency vehicles.
- An environmentally friendly car must be as energy efficient and cause as little climate impact as possible.
- In cases where you need a slightly larger car, a four-wheel drive or if there is no infrastructure for fuel/gas stations, the government allows 230 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.
- To achieve climate benefits, vehicles must be refuelled with renewable fuels specified in the requirements.
- Environmentally friendly cars should be combined with Euroclass requirements. The classification system of Euroclass differ from green cars. This includes reduced emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particles but not carbon dioxide (CO2). Which car you choose does matter. Read more about the environmental classes here (in Swedish).
- Keep in mind, however, that the production of environmentally friendly cars also has an impact considering use of materials and energy. Emissions from production are estimated at just over 25% of emissions during the car’s life cycle. The production of fuel for environmentally friendly cars also has an impact on the climate.
How you drive your car is of great significance. So-called “eco-driving” can result in up to 10-20% lower fuel consumption:
- Make sure that the tires have the correct air pressure as it affects the wear and durability in several ways. You should be especially cautious if the pressure is too low as the tires wear faster.
- Drive in high gear.
- Keep the speed limits.
- Drive defensively and avoid rapid braking.
- Remove roof rack and roof box when not needed.
- Avoid AC which increases fuel consumption by 5%.
Tips for conscious car driving
The obvious tip for you who want to reduce your ecological footprint is to not buy a car or letting the car stay parked. If you still need to use a car there are several tips:
- Go together! To go by yourself in a car run by petrol or diesel has about the same climate impact per kilometer as when you travel by airplane.
- Join a carpool.
- Buy a green car.
- Do not choose the car if and when you can. Leave the car if you are going on a short trip (2-5 km) and take the bike, public transport or walk. Fuel consumption is 35% higher the first 5 kilometers as the exhaust gases in a cold engine are more unburned and more harmful to health.
- Choose eco-labelled tires and avoid heavy metals leaking into the environment when the tires wear out.
- Use an engine heater when it is 0 degrees Celsius or lower for about half an hour before using the car.
- Only use studded tires if absolutely necessary, and only use winter tires if necessary during the winter.
Buses have the same problems as cars when it comes to emissions but are preferable as there are more people who “share” the emissions. Emissions will thus be lower per passenger. However, buses are believed to be even more energy efficient in the future. In some countries, buses can be more environmentally friendly than trains, if the electricity of the train comes from coal-fired power plants.
Walking and cycling are the best choice of transport for the environment and is the best way to travel to work sustainably. It produces none or very low greenhouse gas emissions (the production of the bike emits a lot, of course, but compared to a car very little). However, it can be a bit daunting to cycle before you get into it. Below are some tips on how it can feel easier.
- Maintain your bike from time to time so that it always works. Inflate the tires, rinse, and remove dirt from the chain and oil it.
- Compare how much money you had spent on a car – probably it might be worth getting your bike serviced sometimes so it works as well as possible?
- Get a bicycle basket so you can take off clothes and put them in as you get warmer – an easy way to minimize sweat.
- Get good rainwear, and gloves when it’s cold.
- Is the function of the chain cover on your bike not sufficient? Put rubber bands around your ankles so that your pants are tight and protected from the oily chain!
- Studded tires in the winter simplify cycling in snow and slush.
- At several workplaces, there is access to a shower that you can use if you commute by bicycle. Check with your workplace what options there are!
If you have kids or often have a lot of packing, it may be worth investing in a cargo bike. There are a number of different brands and models depending on your needs.
Page updated 2021.