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Driving holidays in Europe - Plan your self-drive motoring holiday



The table below shows the carbon emissions in tonnes per person for a family of four and a couple taking two typical journeys into France from the UK. Figures are from, one of the few calculators that includes ferry travel.




Car and ferry


Per person

Per person 2 in car

Per person 4 in car

Per person

London to Reims





London to Bordeaux





The number of travellers in the party makes little difference to the emissions per person when flying or going by train, but there is a significant difference between 2 or 4 people in the car. This of course is because one person more or less has little effect in a plane or train, but has a major impact in the car.

The London to Paris car journey included a Dover Calais return ferry crossing, and the Bordeaux trip a ferry from Portsmouth to Caen. The figures for the car are based on a family saloon of about 1.8 litres.

The impact of 4 people flying is two and a half times greater than travelling by car, and one and half times greater for 2 people. The train was less environmentally damaging than the car, but not by much. For a family of four, rail travel will certainly be the most expensive option, and often presents obstacles in terms of practicalities.

Significantly, most carbon calculators, including the one we used, only allow for the damage caused by Co2 emissions, whereas the pollution and contrails produced by jet planes actually have a climate impact reckoned to be nearly three times greater than that of the CO2 in the fuel they burn (see

A comparison of online carbon calculators carried out by COIN (Climate Outreach and Information Network), also found that many of the carbon offsetting websites produced lower than average estimates of the carbon emissions produced by flying. (See

This is a worrying trend, as these are precisely the sites used by those who wish to continue flying, but to do something about the environmental effects by offsetting.

Drive-Alive say it is simple: never mind the offsetting, try real carbon reduction! Take advantage of the flexibility of a driving holiday. Go where you want, when you want and take what you want with you. Relax on the ferry instead of submitting yourself to the traumas of delayed flights to inconvenient airports at uncivilised hours.

Experience the open roads of France where you are in control, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that, although no carbon-based transport is environmentally friendly, at least driving is considerably less damaging than flying.

Or use the really environmentally friendly train. Take the high speed Eurostar passenger train and be whisked in comfort from the spanking new terminal at London St Pancras (From Nov 14th) and arrive in Paris in just 2 hour 15 minutes. The service also goes to Brussels in 1 hour 51 minutes and Lille in only 1 hour 20 minutes. And you can of course connect with the European train network for a guilt-free and stress-free holiday.

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