Supporting BP's interactive carbon calculator for motorists


Daily CO2 emissions from UK road transport (actual volume).
Carbon dioxide emissions from road transport would fill a cube 363 metres high every day. This is the actual volume of daily road transport emissions displayed as carbon dioxide gas. (Latest available figures are for 2007.)

Carbon Visuals helped newly re-launched BP Target Neutral project by providing consultancy for the web calculator designed to help motorists reduce, replace and offset carbon dioxide from driving. The calculator, aimed at the general public, is the first in the world to show actual volumes of CO2 which change in size as different reduction actions are chosen. In addition carbon spheres can be compared against averages for other countries as well as the UK 'target' reduction for 2050.

We also provided a number of bespoke images to highlight transport emissions in the UK, emissions of different transport types as well as transport emissions per capita for different countries.

Our Creative Director, Dr Adam Nieman also provided an overview of the importance of carbon visualisation

The first visual image uses Spaghetti Junction on the M6 near Birmingham as this basic ground. The familiar image from the British road network makes the immediate point that this is about roads, but then uses the recognisable scale to locate a cube-like shape showing the volume of carbon our cars, lorries and buses put into the atmosphere every day.

The cube presents this visually, while the simple captions fill in the specific details. This, the image is saying, is what 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide look like, and that’s what we’re pumping into the atmosphere every day. Suddenly the daily figure is something real and dramatic.

Daily CO2 emissions from UK road transport (actual volume).
Actual volume of daily road transport carbon dioxide emissions. This much carbon dioxide gas is added to the atmosphere every day on our roads, 58% of it is from personal transport. (Latest available figures are for 2007.)

This image moves on to break that data down in order to offer another insight. It shows how much of the overall daily figure is caused by personal transport (you and me driving in our cars) and how much is commercial transport (freight and buses).

It makes the point simply and clearly that our individual driving habits have the biggest impact on the greenhouse gases behind climate change. It doesn’t tell us what we can do about that, but it supports a critical point about our personal responsibility for the problem.

Annual per-capita CO2 emissions from road transport (actual volume)
Actual volume of annual per-capita carbon dioxide emissions from road transport. This the quantity of carbon dioxide gas from road transport shared amongst each person in each country – not each driver nor each car. The
data are from 2008.

Then we have two images designed to show significant facts about emission variations from country to country. They use a simple chart-like series of columns to present this data, with some graphical transport elements to bring home the subject. The first image shows emissions relative to population size where it’s clear that the taller the column, the worse the environmental implications.

Dramatic too are the tiny columns for India and China. But then you have to ask yourself what would happen if either of these fast-developing countries had the same per capita emission rates as the US.

Per-capita CO2 targets for road transport emissions (actual volume)
Annual per-capita emissions targets for 2025 (UK) or 2020 (others). The dashed line shows a comparison with latest emission figures. In the case of France and Austria the targets are greater than current emissions. The image shows the actual volume of carbon dioxide gas.

The second of these two bar chart images adds a non-partisan political dimension, adding dotted lines to each of the bars to show how countries closer to home are doing in relation to their own targets.

Greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-mile (actual volume) Actual volume of greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile for different forms of transport, expressed in terms of CO2(e) – carbon dioxide equivalent. (Figures for cars relate to the driver only.)

The last images show at a glance the different emissions associated with different types of transport. Once again private cars emerge in a dramatic position compared to other modes, but then the data presented so simply and clearly here could inform many kinds of discussion about our choices for the future.

Greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-kilometre (actual volume) Actual volume of greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre for different forms of transport, expressed in terms of CO2(e) – carbon dioxide equivalent. (Figures for cars relate to the driver only.)

The BP Target Neutral Methodology PDF below outlines the data, calculations and assumptions in the image set.


Download BP Target Neutral Methodology