The journey to work and back home marks the beginning and end of the workday for millions of people around the globe, and if you’ve recently started going back into the office, you might have looked into getting electric car finance for a new vehicle.
But commuting is also one of the biggest contributors to our individual carbon footprints and in total, it’s estimated that transport is responsible for around a quarter of global emissions, with three-quarters of that coming from road vehicles.
But which nations are the worst culprits for emissions when it comes to the daily commute?
The country that spends the longest time stuck in traffic is Nigeria, with an average commute time of just under 62 minutes (each way!). Specifically in the capital of Lagos, traffic congestion can be extreme, with an estimated 10,000 passengers in each direction per hour during peak times.
Clocking in at just over an hour per journey, Costa Rica had the second-longest average commute time, despite being a relatively small island nation. Some of the reasons it’s been suggested that could cause these long travel times include poor road conditions, windy, mountainous terrain, and the prospect of getting stuck behind the many freight trucks that arrive and depart from the island’s seaports.
Bangladesh has the third-longest average commute, at just under an hour (57.12 minutes), just ahead of neighbouring Sri Lanka (56.74 minutes). Like with Nigeria, the problem is worst in major cities such as Dhaka, which is known as one of the most congested cities in the world, with no organized public transport system and hundreds of thousands of rickshaws blocking the road (Dhaka is home to more rickshaws than any other city in the world).
While its average commute time was relatively low in comparison to many other countries, it was South Africa that had the highest emissions per journey, with 4,859g per one-way journey. Rather than formal public transport systems, the use of minibus taxis is popular in South Africa, which are often older, more polluting vehicles.
Not too far behind South Africa is Lebanon, with 4,621g of emissions per one-way journey. Lebanon is a developing country and the number of vehicles in Lebanon has increased significantly, in the last couple of decades, contributing to the increase in emissions.
As was the case with commute times, Costa Rica appears in the top three when it comes to the emissions produced when commuting, at 4,514g per journey. Given that the average commute takes over an hour in Costa Rica, it’s little surprise that the emissions per journey are so high here.
The town (soon to be upgraded to city status) with the greatest average commute is Southend-on-Sea, in Essex, where the average journey takes over three-quarters of an hour. Some in the town commute to London, which is around 40 miles away or just under an hour on the train.
Coming in with an average commute time of just under three-quarters of an hour is the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire. Bradford itself is a busy city for commuters, as the third-biggest economy in Yorkshire & the Humber, but is also home to many who commute into nearby Leeds.
The UK’s capital city has the third-highest average commute in the country, at 43.72 minutes. While it is well connected by the London Underground, commuting by car can be slow in London, and even when taking public transport, the sheer size of the city can make commuting time-consuming.
As well as having one of the longest average commute times, the city with the highest average emissions was Bradford, where a one-way journey produces just over 5,000g of CO2, on average.
Peterborough, in Cambridgeshire, has the second-highest average emissions per journey, with 4,766g. The city is well connected, sat on the East Coast Main Line that runs between London and Edinburgh and it has rapidly grown since the 1960s with lots of new jobs.
Completing the three towns and cities with the greatest commuting emissions is Bournemouth, on the South Coast, where the average journey produces over 4,500g. Bournemouth is a regional business centre, with workers commuting in from nearby Poole and Christchurch and further afield in Dorset too.
All data sourced from Numbeo’s Traffic Index.
Average commute times refer to the average one-way time needed to make a journey, in minutes.
Estimated CO2 emissions per journey refer to the estimated CO2 consumption due to traffic time in grams (emissions for a return journey divided by two to estimate one-way emissions).
Vehicle global emissions, with iea.org.