The transport sector is a major contributor to climate change and car use significantly contributes to an individual's carbon footprint. Transport emissions are already responsible for 16% of greenhouse emissions in Australia abd are increasing more rapidly than those from any other sector.3

With average use, an Australian family car travels 15,000km a year, generating about 5 tonnes of greenhouse pollution and costing its owners about $13,000. Walking just 10km a week (1km each way, to and from work), instead of driving, saves about $900 in transport costs and 300 kilograms of greenhouse pollution each year.


Many car trips are short (less than 2km) which is a walkable distance for most. If people walked instead of using a cold-start vehicle, pollution levels would be reduced substantially. 1

With every litre of petrol saved, greenhouse pollution is reduced by 2.9 kilograms. 7


Motor vehicles are a dominant source of air toxics. 2

Traffic noise is probably one of the most serious and pervasive types of noise pollution. 4

On a daily basis, almost 40% of all Australians are exposed to undesirable levels of traffic noise and a further 10% is exposed to excessive levels. 4

Associations between particles, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and asthma hospital admissions have been confirmed in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. 6

Exhaust fumes are known to affect health causing and/or developing the instances of:

  • Respiratory tract irritation and infection, allergies
  • Bronchitis, eye irritation
  • Exacerbation of respiratory and cardiopulmonary diseases
  • Asthma requiring hospital admission
  • Lung Cancer 6

As well as greenhouse pollution, vehicle exhaust causes air pollution, such as smog, which according to CSIRO kills about 2,400 Australians every year. 7


  1. Mason C. Transport and Health: en route to a healthier Australia? Medical Journal of Australia 2000; 172: 230-232
  2. Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage 2005: https://www.deh.gov.au
  3. Woodward A,Hales S and Hill SE. Protecting the Planet - The motor car and public health: are we exhausting the environment? Medical Journal of Australia 2002; (11-12) 592-593
  4. Australian Academy of Science. Nova, June 2002: https://www.science.org.au
  5. https://www.energieportal.nl/english/climate-change
  6. National Asthma Organisation: https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/
  7. Australian Conservation Foundation GreenHome program 2007. www.acfonline.org.au
  8. Australian Conservation Foundation 2007. The GreenHome Guide; 43