14/08/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Parents Who Drive Kids To School Are 'Killing The Planet'

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Parents have been told to stop driving their children on the school run – because they're 'killing the planet'.

Green campaigners said the school run 'costs the Earth' because every time a child is driven to primary school and back their car releases into the atmosphere the equivalent of 84 balloons worth of carbon dioxide (CO2) - the 'greenhouse gas' which some scientists blame for global warming.

They are urging parents to encourage their children to walk, cycle 'scoot' on a scooter or take a bus to school rather than rely on the chauffeur services provided by legions of mums and dad causing gridlock outside the school gates. The research by environmental transport charity Sustrans said that if a child is driven to school every day they would generate 183,379 balloons worth of CO2 over their school career: 84 balloons every day.

It said that, overall, journeys to school made by car are responsible for releasing over 363,075 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, it claims.

Their report states: "Currently over 1,760,000 children are driven to primary school across the UK - even though pupils live an average of 1.8 miles from their school which takes just 20 minutes to bike or scoot."

The announcement comes at the start of The Big Pedal (3 - 14 March); an inter-school competition run by Sustrans ,which encourages families to cycling or scoot the school run.

This year The Big Pedal is partnering with Climate Week (3 - 9 March) to emphasise the impact the school run has on the environment.

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive at Sustrans said: "Driving to school not only contributes to UK-wide air pollution levels, it also causes pollution at the school gates which can be harmful for children.

"If families who lived closer to school travelled by bike or scooter then both pollution and congestion levels could be significantly reduced."

He added: "Parents who make this simple change to their daily routine will help everyone breathe a little easier and will find their journeys help make them happier and healthier too."

More on Parentdish: One in three children driven to school live less than a mile away