Calculate Your Car's Carbon Footprint

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Calculating your car’s carbon footprint just got a lot easier, thanks to a new interactive tool created by MIT researchers. As The New York Times reports, CarbonCounter uses new data to determine how 125 car types currently for sale in the U.S. impact the environment.

CarbonCounter's calculations are based on findings from a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Meeting global climate change mitigation goals will require drivers to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, so researchers wanted to find out which cars will help us achieve that goal. The study looked at the carbon intensities (a.k.a. carbon emissions per mile) of each vehicle; and to see if green living is really that expensive, it also calculated how much the cars cost to own and operate based on vehicle, fuel, and maintenance costs per mile.

Want to find out how harmful your ride is for the environment, and how much an environmentally-friendly vehicle will set you back financially? Go to CarbonCounter’s website and enter your vehicle model and location (the carbon intensity of the electricity supply is higher in some places than others, Vox explains). The results will pop up in the grid in front of you. You can also see how your vehicle stacks up against U.S. emission-reduction targets for 2030, 2040, and 2050 (the end goal being to limit mean global temperature rise to 2°C above preindustrial levels).

Here are a few main takeaways: Hybrid and battery vehicles may have a high initial sticker price, but they actually save you money in the long run because they cost less to fuel up and maintain. (Not surprisingly, most of these “clean” cars also meet the emission-reduction target for 2030.) Meanwhile, no cars with internal combustion engines meet the 2030 standard, and the average carbon intensity of vehicles sold in 2014 exceeds the climate target for 2030 by more than 50 percent. Clearly, auto manufacturers (and policymakers) have their work cut out for them.

[h/t The New York Times]

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