When it comes to our carbon footprint, we are all feeling the pressure of responsibility. The press is filled with scaremongering stories of us all being consumed by a deluge that only Noah's Ark could possibly save us from if we don't reign in our use of climate warming chemicals. One of the biggest enemies of our fragile environment is, we are told, our cars and the carbon monoxide fumes that are emitted from them.
However, we have come to rely endlessly on our cars and no matter how much they push up the price of fuel, no matter how much they push up tax and insurances, we complain, we compare, we shop around and still we pay out and use them. So, what is the answer?
Well, it comes down to the joint responsibility of the car manufacturers to produce more eco-friendly cars and the consumer to consider and buy with the exhaust emissions in mind. Hybrid cars use less fossil fuel and more electricity and have been out for some time so it is possible to find used cars for those who don't want to buy new. Manufacturers are working towards efficient and well performing all electric cars but accessibility to the masses is a little way away. So, if we wish to buy a new car then the onus is on us to do the research and find one that is as environmentally friendly as possible.
Each category of car will contain cars that are more or less damaging to the atmosphere. City cars can be big offenders, all that stop/starting and sitting in traffic with engines running is a major cause of pollution and a big reason why cities end up with a smog above them. This smog not only damages our environment but causes all types of respiratory problems in pedestrians.
The Citroen C1 is the best city car with emissions from 108. This puts it at the top of its class and one that should seriously be considered if we do a lot of city driving. Quite surprisingly, the Ford Ka comes bottom of the list with emissions at 147, despite the fact that people see it as a nippy little car that is easy to park in cities.
The supermini category has the Seat Ibiza as its most impressive car followed by the Volkswagon Polo and Mini, all showing low emissions. If it's a small family car you are looking for the Toyota Prius is well known for its anti-climate change stance. The BMW 1 Series is not far behind and this is one manufacturer who is aiming for a car in every category to give consumers the choice of high quality cars with low emissions.
The executive class of cars sees the BMW 5 Series right at the top. This means that style and class does not have to be compromised for looking after the very air that we breathe. Mercedes have their E Class, CLS and R Class in the executive category but are still slipping behind BMW.
For a truly luxurious car, the BMW 7 Series comes an impressive second place for low emissions, just behind the Audi A8. The performance sports class of vehicle holds the BMW Z4 and BMW 6 Series in quite high regard as well as Audi TT, Audi A5 and a few Mercedes. BMW even have an off road vehicle - the BMW X3 that has a low emissions rating, above Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Jeep, the original kings of the off-roading scene.
So, it would seem that whatever class of car we are looking for there is a wide choice that we can pick from that will not harm our environment any more than necessary, that can get us around in style and comfort and leave us with no excuse to shut our eyes to the problem.
Environmental expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way BMW and other cars are making good headway towards eco-friendly transport.