For most environmentally minded people, any method of cutting down their fossil fuel usage is going to be an attractive prospect. As a result, making the investment in a more eco friendly car will, on first glance, appear to be an entirely sensible decision.
However, despite the numerous benefits, as with many environmental issues, the question of whether buying a hybrid, electric, or more fuel efficient car will actually reduce your carbon footprint is far from straight forward…
This is because, if you really want to base your decision on its potential environmental benefits, you have to consider the emissions that were generated by manufacturing the new car in the first place. Whilst an eco friendly car will almost always come out on top in a like-for-like comparison of running costs (both environmental and financial) against your current vehicle, building a new car is an energy intensive process. Consequently, it could be greener to simply find a second hand car that can offer you decent mileage per a gallon.
This principle is true of a wide range of products that are marketed as ‘green’, and presents something of a paradox to consumers for whom sustainability is of paramount importance. Though all sorts of new goods are constantly being innovated to provide a more environmentally sound solution to existing technologies, the majority of the time can actually be greener to use something second hand, than to buy anything built from scratch, even it’s super efficient. (Obviously, products that are 100% recycled are an exception, but, unfortunately, this isn’t the usually case, even with the most eco friendly of cars.)
As a result of this phenomenon, you’ll often find that, once you’ve done the sums, you’ll actually have to drive an incredibly long way before the emissions generated in the process of building a brand new eco friendly are ‘offset’ by its greater energy efficiency.
Of course, every case has to be taken on its merits and, as the argument made above suggests, the ideal situation would be one where eco friendly cars, such as hybrids, were so ubiquitous that they could easily be picked up second hand, with gas guzzlers being phased out over time. Obviously, this will never happen if none are ever built and bought in the first place!
Besides these considerations, many other factors might make buying a new friendly car an environmentally viable option. For example, electric cars still cause greenhouse gas emissions, as they are usually charged using electricity generated by power plants processing fossil fuels, but, if you live in an area where much of the electricity is generated by nuclear power, you can charge your car up, knowing that less greenhouse gases have been released into the atmosphere as a result.
Another point to consider is the fact that, as well as saving the planet, an eco friendly car might also save you a huge amount of money, especially as petrol prices continue to soar. Indeed, if you are truly worried about the carbon footprint of the new cars manufacture, you could actually use some of this extra cash to invest in offsetting programmes.
Making a Decision
Finally, the mileage offered by the car you’re currently driving, and the length of time you think you’ll stick with your new car both have to be considered when toting up the environmental implications of your decision. Whatever your circumstances, these calculations are always worth doing when weighing up your options.