The Checkout

A Personal Way to Fight Global Warming?

Performance reviews. Reliability ratings. Government crash and rollover test findings. Fuel-mileage data. Car shoppers sort through all sorts of information before they make the big leap. Now, Resources For the Future suggests buyers also should consider carbon-dioxide emissions.

Katherine N. Probst, a senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan research group, has devised an easy-to-read window label so shoppers can easily determine if that car they want is a big polluter. The colorful labels would help consumers make the link between fuel economy and global warming, Probst said. So a blue "Best" label would go to the Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Neon, Ford Focus, Honda's Accord and Civic, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra and Toyota's Camry, Corolla and Prius Hybrid. Meanwhile, the black "Worst" label would be attached to Chevrolet's Express, Silverado, Tahoe and Trailblazer, Dodge's Ram Pickup, Ford's Econoline, Explorer and F-Series and GMC's Sierra. For ratings in between, read Probst's article, "Combating Global Warming One Car at a Time."

"For every gallon of gas burned, your car produces roughly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide," Probst said in a news release. "Why not provide consumers with details on carbon-dioxide emissions on a car-by-car basis and enable them to draw on that information if they are concerned about the issue?"

Such information is already required on all new cars in Europe; a 2005 California law mandates similar information be provided on all cars starting in the 2009 model year, Probst said. The Environmental Protection Agency is now weighing new fuel-economy labels--but none of the proposed designs include carbon dioxide emissions data.

"Certainly, requiring carbon dioxide labels on every new car won't change consumer behavior tomorrow," says Probst. "In fact, it may not affect buying habits for several years. However, this label would help educate consumers on the link between the car they drive and carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere and enable those already concerned about global warming to take action at a personal level by selecting cars with lower emissions. This label is an important step toward enabling consumers to make the most informed decision possible."

If you want that information now, you can find it on a car-by-car basis at two government Web sites, one maintained by the EPA, the other by the EPA and Department of Energy.

By  |  March 23, 2006; 12:00 PM ET Consumer News
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

"For every gallon of gas burned, your car produces roughly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide," I s that possible? May be some of yur readers can explain.
For the record I don't drive a gas gussler, never have and never will.

Posted by: Tony J | March 23, 2006 12:56 PM

Gas weighs about 6 pounds per gallon. When it combusts, the carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. the resultant carbon dioxide weighs more.

Posted by: Chris Battle | March 23, 2006 2:27 PM

I would have thought that the rising cost of gasoline would be the best disincentive. Anyone that purchases a gas guzzler would already know that they are not helping global warming.

I think buying a green car is just a first step, the most important step has to be car pooling!

Posted by: Randy J | March 23, 2006 5:29 PM

Unfortunately, current high and rising gas costs aren't having a significant effect on demand, and we can't wait until they get even higher to do something about emissions.

It is comforting to realize that individual consumer choices can help reduce emissions, but it's not enough to put emissions labels on cars or change our driving habits. The manufacturers have to stop producing gas-guzzling cars to begin with.

Energy market dynamics set prices so as to maximize profits over a typical investment cycle, but fossil fuel depletion and global warming are happening on much longer cycles, so we need to use other regulatory mechanisms, like legislation and taxation. We're not going to get action on this from our current leaders and two-party political system, so we need new leaders and comprehensive political reforms.

Posted by: Joe Futrelle | March 23, 2006 6:25 PM

Want to lower your gas cost (and global warming emissions) by 10-15%? Simply drive closer to 55MPH on the highway. The rules of physics haven't changed since the '70s, according to the graph at

Posted by: Werner | March 23, 2006 10:06 PM

If your goverment would increase gas tax by 5c per gallon that clear the national debt pretty quick, and be an incentive to buy a more efficient transport, also helping to save the wear and teat on the roads/tyres and all sorts of other benefits (shorter ques)?

bribagz UK

Posted by: Bribagz | March 24, 2006 3:17 AM

This is cool, you have to try it. I guessed 32645, and this game guessed it! See it here -

Posted by: Allison Trump | May 23, 2006 7:33 PM

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