Driving towards a cleaner future: how to reduce vehicle pollution

There are 1.4 billion vehicles in circulation on the world’s roads. From the factory to the scrap yard, these vehicles require raw materials to be extracted from the earth, then emit CO2 and fine particles, which cause damage to our health and our planet. But what’s the solution? Use your car as little as possible, and opt for greener transport solutions: walking, cycling or public transport. But France is a very car-centric country. The best idea is to reduce – as best you can – how much pollution your car generates.

Tips on eco-driving

There are some simple things you can do from behind the wheel to limit your carbon footprint and how much your vehicle impacts air quality:

  • When you accelerate or brake suddenly, your car emits more pollution. Steady, controlled driving is better for everyone because the ride is smoother. Use the engine brake rather than the brake pedal.
  • You can also reduce your speed: if you slow down by just 10 km/h, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5%.
  • Another way of reducing car pollution is to avoid busy times and congested areas. And if, despite your efforts, your vehicle ends up stationary for more than 20 seconds, it is better to turn off the engine than to leave it idling. You’ll use less fuel, which is a source of pollution.
  • Air conditioning also consumes fuel. ADEME estimates that keeping your car cool inside increases fuel consumption by around 2 l/100 km in urban areas. Nobody is suggesting that you turn it off completely, just don’t use it systematically.

Good car maintenance

Keeping your car in good working order reduces the pollution it generates. Limit your impact by checking your oil, changing your particle filters and pumping up your tyres.

A lighter load

The heavier a vehicle, the more fuel it consumes and the more it pollutes. The WWF estimates that an SUV consumes 15% more energy than a standard vehicle. When buying or renting a vehicle, it is better to choose lightweight models. Also remember to unload your vehicle as much as possible: empty the boot and remove your bike rack or an unused roof box.

Capturing fine particles

Fine particles from car exhaust emissions and friction increase the risk of respiratory and pulmonary problems as well as other diseases such as cardiovascular conditions. Particulate filters are essential in reducing car pollution and improving air quality in our towns and cities. They are used for diesel engines and have been regulated since 2011. The filters must be checked regularly to make sure they are not clogged.

Another technique is to help suction off the particles emitted during braking with a solution such as TAMIC by Tallano Technologies.

Switch to electric

What other options will there be for reducing car pollution in the future? Electric vehicles are often presented as the ideal solution. Rightly so, in France, electric vehicles emit 3 to 4 times less CO2 than a petrol or diesel car. Nevertheless, the carbon impact of manufacturing an electric car can be two to three times greater than that of a petrol or diesel car, and large amounts of fossil fuel and metals such as lithium are required. Unfortunately, a “pollution-free” car is yet to be invented.

Discover more questions

Stinging eyes, breathlessness, a cough that won’t budge: air pollution – especially when it’s cause by fine particles – is irritating, but can also be the cause of serious diseases. It even puts lives in danger: in France, air pollution cuts life expectancy by two years. And in New Delhi, this figure leaps to 10 years. In terms of deaths on a global scale, air pollution is just as dangerous as smoking, and even more serious than alcohol and unclean water (there are three times as many air pollution-related deaths) and HIV (six times more). Who is most at risk? People suffering from respiratory and cardiac disorders, diabetes, infants, seniors and pregnant women.
One in five deaths around the world is attributable to outdoor air pollution yet politicians are struggling to remedy the situation. In France, the government has even been found at fault by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the French Council of State for not doing enough, while air pollution causes more than 40,000 premature deaths every year. What’s to blame? Natural phenomena certainly contribute (pollen, forest fires, soil erosion, volcanic eruptions, etc.), but most of the damage is caused by human activity (agriculture, industry, transport, construction, etc.), which generates gases and fine particles. In some parts of France transport is the worst culprit, in others, agriculture comes top of the list. In the fight against outdoor air pollution in France, measures must now be taken on domestic heating and road transport, which are respectively responsible for half and a quarter of fine particle emissions in Ile-de-France.
The term “fine particle” refers to an aggregate of polluting chemical compounds created during combustion, friction or chemical reactions. Forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and desert dust: fine particles can occur naturally. But most fine particles are generated by human activity. How? Mainly from road traffic (exhaust gases and abrasion caused by brakes on tyres and the road), home heating, and industrial and agricultural emissions.