England’s local authorities that produce the most CO₂ from traffic delays

Special from SaveOnEnergy

illustration: SaveOnEnergy.com
illustration: SaveOnEnergy.com

We all know that driving produces CO2. But have you ever considered how much an idle engine sitting in endless traffic jams produces? Experts at SaveOnEnergy.com/uk took it upon themselves to find out which local authority in England produces the most, or least, CO2 per driver over a lifetime.

Highest and lowest ranking local authorities
England’s lifetime average traffic delay is 7,247 hours which accounts for 10,304 kg of CO2 emissions. The lowest ranking 73 local authorities are below average, and authorities 74 through 159 are above average, meaning that proportionally more local authorities in England are higher than the Nation’s average.

illustration: SaveOnEnergy.com
illustration: SaveOnEnergy.com

Most polluting authorities
In ninth place, ranking as the most polluting region, is London unsurprisingly, given its size and the number of cars on the road. Figures suggest that on average, each vehicle is subject to 18,166 hours of delay which leads to 26,246 kg of CO2over a lifetime – a shocking 155% higher than England’s average. That’s the equivalent of 4,031 homes’ electricity use for one year! London accounts for all local authorities in the bottom 10.

The worst London local authority is the City of London with a staggering 42,904 average hours of delay, leading to 61,007 kg of CO2 per vehicle. The least polluting London local authority is Havering, averaging 8,004 hours of delay and 11,564 kg of CO2.

In the penultimate spot, and the second most polluting region, is the North West. With average delays of 8,251 hours, just one car can produce 11,921 kg of CO2 over a lifetime – 16% higher than England’s average. That’s the equivalent of 1,831 homes’ electricity use for one year! Their most polluting local authority is Manchester, with average delays of 16,536 hours over a lifetime and approximately 23,890 kg of CO2 generated. Their least polluting local authority is Halton, placing ninth overall.

Least polluting authorities
The least polluting region is the East. On average, each vehicle is subject to 5,056 hours of delay over a lifetime, leading to an average of 7,305 kg of CO2 emissions per vehicle – 29% lower than England’s average. That’s the equivalent of 1,122 homes’ electricity use for one year! The East’s least polluting local authority is Peterborough with 3,903 average hours of delay, meaning an average of 5,639 kg of CO2 per vehicle. The most polluting authority in the East of England is Southend-on-Sea, averaging 11,414 hours of delay and 16,490 kg of CO2 per vehicle.

The second least polluting region is the North East, with an average of 5,106 hours of delay accounting for 7,377 kg of CO2 emissions per vehicle – 28% lower than England’s average. Their least polluting local authority is Redcar and Cleveland, featuring fourth in England. Their most polluting local authority is Newcastle upon Tyne, with average delays of 11,117 hours, meaning 16,062 kg of CO2 is produced per vehicle, on average.

illustration: SaveOnEnergy.com
illustration: SaveOnEnergy.com

For more information, please see SaveonEnergy’s blog post in full here.

Methodology
Lifetime car emissions per region data:

  • SaveOnEnergy.com/uk found travel data from this gov.uk page to find the average delay per local authority in 2019 in terms of spvpm (seconds per vehicle per mile). It is assumed that each second of delay is equivalent to the car idling.
  • The average UK driver drives 592,920 miles in their lifetime according to thisismoney.co.uk. This statistic was multiplied by the above delay statistics and converted into hours to find the average lifetime hours of delay by local authority.
  • A car consumes about 0.16 gallons per hour while idling (based on this data). This was multiplied by the lifetime delay as calculated above to estimate the gallons of fuel wasted due to delay.
  • According to epa.gov, one gallon of fuel burns approximately 8,887 grams of CO2 when it is burned. This was used to calculate the average estimated lifetime CO2 emissions per driver caused by delays.