What could Sustainable Transport look like in your Community?
Want to know more about how you can lower your carbon footprint? Well, luckily there a wide range of cheap and easy ways to help lower greenhouse gas emissions!
You might not think so but doing this small thing can have a huge impact on the planet. Unbelievably, transport represents almost a quarter of Europe’s emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. Using the conventional diesel and petrol cars are actually quite harmful as they emit carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides which can be damaging to your health.
But it’s not all bad news! Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector fell by nearly 9% in 2020: the biggest drop since 1990. However, this shift was largely a result of COVID restrictions, and if we are to reach our climate targets by 2050, emissions from transport will need to be at least 60% lower than in 1990 and be on the path towards zero. In order for this to happen, local authorities will need to provide low carbon travel options and encourage more people to stop traveling by diesel and petrol cars.
It is vital that the travel options are not just sustainable, but also accessible. Much of the discussion around sustainable travel is centred around the options available to able-bodied people. This is where eco-ableism comes in – this is a form of ableism, or discrimination in favour of able-bodied people. The “eco” comes from environmental activists who, though attempting to save the environment, don’t do so that takes into account those with less privilege than them. Councils need to take these things into account in order to be more inclusive and give disabled people the options of travelling that are more convenient for them.
There are many options out there for people to travel in a more environmentally-friendly way.
Here are some:
- Travel electric: You can buy electric or even rent them!
The 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars and the net zero targets means that if you are a driver, an electric vehicle is likely in your future. You are spoilt for choice as there are many different types of electric cars out there. There are “pure” electric cars, that do not produce any tailpipe emissions; hybrid vehicles, that combine electric and traditional engines and have no range limitation; and extended range electric vehicles that have a range of up to 300 miles.
These eco-friendly vehicles have a range of money-saving benefits including: reduced maintenance and servicing costs, a zero rate of vehicle excise duty, free parking in some locations and the fact that they are much cheaper to “refuel”. The benefits for the planet are also impressive – plug-in cars emit 75g/km CO2 (around half that of the average UK car). Plus, the government has just introduced grants of up to £2,500 for electric vehicles on cars priced under £35,000. The grants target less expensive models and make it easier for people to make the switch to all electric. Even better – the increase of electric vehicles on the road has therefore increased the demand for local electric charging points. As of May 2021, approximately 24,000 public charging points have been installed across the UK.
“You might not think so but doing this small thing can have a huge impact on the planet.”
- Walk or cycle more!
Walking and cycling are zero carbon forms of transport and have some serious health benefits. Cycling is 70 times more energy efficient than the conventional car. The UK government has allocated £2 billion towards cycling and walking infrastructure, with that money going towards improving cycling routes and making them more accessible to the public.
E-Bikes and E-cargo bikes are another eco-friendly way to get around! They provide between 25-100 miles of pedalling enhancement on a single charge and emit 144 times less CO2 per mile than the average diesel or petrol car. You don’t even need to commit to purchasing an e-bike to experience their benefits: there are now 33 bike sharing scheme locations in the UK, with a 23,142 total number of bikes. In the last year or so, 29% of people reported using bike share as an alternative due to the travel restrictions as a result of Covid.
We also need to ensure that our cycling infrastructure is accessible. There are many myths that disabled people can’t cycle, however, 15% of them do using a range of different types of bikes including e-bikes. There is a lack of fully inclusive infrastructure across cycle networks and the majority of cycle parking and storage facilities fail to cater for the needs of disabled cyclists. Also non-standard cycles (including specially adapted bicycles) are typically more expensive than standard road bikes, with access to hire and loan schemes also limited.
- Take public transport!
There are many forms of public transport which can drastically reduce your carbon footprint. Traditional public transport, like trains and buses can reduce CO2 emissions by 42% if using buses and 73% by using trains.
Car clubs are another great option – they work by giving members access to a car on a short-term rental basis and charging by the hour or the day. 100% of publicly available car club cars are ultra-low emission and clean air zones and 10% of them are electric. The emission for the average car club are 26.5% less than the average UK car!
As you can see there are many alternatives available, so why not try some of these the next time you are commuting to work or are just out and about in your local area!
Want a chance to shape climate policy in your area? Use our template and contact your council about our green recovery platform!
A guide to inclusive cycling. (2017). Wheels for Wellbeing. Retrieved from https://wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/v2-Nov-2017.pdf.
Average CO2 emissions per car in the UK. (2020). NimbleFins. Retrieved from https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/average-co2-emissions-car-uk.
Car clubs and car sharing. (2019). Sustans. Retrieved from https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/get-active/2019/everyday-walking-and-cycling/car-clubs-and-car-sharing/.
Comouk. (2020). Car Club Annual Report Great Britain 2020. Retrieved from https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/CoMoUK-Great-Britain-Car-Club-Summary-Report-2020.pdf.
Comouk. (2020). Shared bikes. Retrieved from https://como.org.uk/shared-mobility/shared-bikes/what/.
Conway, E. (2021). COVID-19: Lockdown caused Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions to drop at fastest rate in nearly a century. Sky News. Retrieved from https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-britains-greenhouse-gas-emissions-dropped-9-in-2020-12256220.
Energy Saving Trust. (2021). Low Carbon Travel: Electric Vehicles. Retrieved from https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/electric-vehicles/.
European Commission. (2021). Transport Emissions: A European Strategy for low- emission mobility. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport_en.
Imgrund, M. Eco-Ableism: What It Is, Why It Matters and How It Affects Disabled People.(2018). eco Warrior princess. Retrieved from https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2018/08/eco-ableism-what-it-is-why-it-matters-how-affects-disabled-people/
Plug-in car, van and truck grant to be targeted at more affordable models to allow more people to make the switch. (2021). Gov. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plug-in-car-van-and-truck-grant-to-be-targeted-at-more-affordable-models-to-allow-more-people-to-make-the-switch.