In the UK about 35% of our CO2 emissions are from transport, with about 60% of this is by individuals, the rest being freight and services (see Mayer Hillman’s book). Most importantly, transport energy is still rising steeply but will soon be unaffordable.
The polluting businesses try and confuse us with statistics, for example air travel is ‘more efficient’ than going by car. What this means is a full airplane takes 300 people a thousand miles for less fuel than 300 high fuel consumption cars. It ignores the fact that emissions from air travel are nearly three times as damaging, and air travel makes you go massive distances, like New York for a weekend. The UK population uses more air miles than the USA.
No single solution will change our transport system. Traffic is all of us, on foot on bikes in public transport and in individual private cars. There are system levers that can make dramatic change. The goal of transport is access to goods, services, employment, recreation. The best description of how to get system change is this report full of brilliant examples from cities across the world, including the UK ITDP Our cities 8 principles Sept 11 Parking is another key issue, and Donald Shoup’s book ‘High cost of free parking‘ has started to influence policy, this paper from ITDP shows evidence of how intelligent management of parking cuts congestion in cities by eliminating the 30-40% of circulating cars searching for a free space.
To make personal changes we’ve found you need a different world view of what is important, and this takes time. We may be deeply attached to believing we are such busy and important people that we must rush all over the place. So, it’s a question of getting more carbon literate, and making an honest assessment of your footprint. You may find that transport is a small part, or you may find that with several flights a year then changing your ideas about travel will do far more than if you started living in a yurt and growing all your own food – although that would make a big difference too.
Here is a two page document Personal transport that summarises information that we have found essential.
Here are a two examples of changes that people in the group have made.