Last updated on April 8, 2022
A small gasoline powered car emits about 195 grams of CO2e per kilometre. In Canada, a car is driven on average 15,200 km per year and releases about 3 tonnes of CO2e per year. Over the 13 year lifetime of a typical Canadian car, this amounts to 38 tonnes. The total CO2e, including both the manufacturing and operation of a small car over its life is 44 to 46.5 tonnes.
A small electric car has a larger embodied carbon footprint but, if charged with renewable energy, the emitted carbon is essentially zero. However, renewable energy has its own embodied carbon (about 20 to 30 grams CO2/kWh) . A small electric car gets 6.5 km per kWh, and uses 2,340 kWh per year. 0.07 tonnes of CO2e is released each year and over the 13 year life of an electric car, the total embodied and emitted CO2e is 14.9 tonnes, 40 % of the carbon released by an equivalent gasoline car.
Emitted carbon is usually not included in the CO2e of exported items. It is a problem similar to embodied carbon. For example, the CO2e of exported tar sands oil does not capture the emitted carbon as part of Canada’s GHG emissions.