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Flying versus the use of an electric vehicle

Flying is associated with high greenhouse gas emissions. This is shown by the comparison with the use of an electric vehicle instead of a combustion engine over one year. A round trip from Berlin to Brussels outweighs the savings from switching vehicles.

The infographic shows the comparison of GHG emissions from one year on the road with the electric car and one flight. The savings of 460 kg CO2 eq. are erased by a single round-trip flight from Berlin to Brussels.


The use of a private car is associated with high CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuel. The technological change to electromobility is absolutely necessary to achieve the climate protection goals in the transport sector. For individuals, this change involves high investment costs and, if necessary, an adjustment of mobility behavior. This is because recharging time and the availability of charging stations must be taken into account in travel planning.

Using the UBA CO2 calculator, it was possible to calculate a saving of 460 kg CO2 equivalents resulting from the vehicle change for one year. This is a saving of 29 % compared to the use of an internal combustion vehicle. An average annual mileage of 6,500 kilometers was assumed.

A round-trip flight from Berlin to Brussels would completely offset this saving. With a total distance of only 1,280 km, this is a relatively small intra-European flight. This example is intended to illustrate the overall impact of flights on the individual carbon footprint.

Further examples will follow and can be found on this page:

Details on data basis:

  • Electric car vs. diesel/gasoline vehicle based on UBA CO2 calculator.
    • Mileage 6,500 km per year
  • Calculation of flight emissions based on TREMOD AV
    • Results take into account non-CO2-induced emissions, via RFI 3 (Radiative Forcing Index)
  • Flight distance indicates the great circle distance of departure and destination airports