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REDUCING OUR TRAVEL CARBON EMISSIONS


Traveling and commuting are hard on the planet. Transport has become the largest emitting sector of the UK economy, accounting for 28% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. If current trends continue, emissions from aviation could make up over half of the UK carbon budget in 2050.


In this blog, we'll cover flying and driving.


 

CUT BACK ON FLYING

 

Only a minority of the UK population flies regularly. But you might be one of them, so keep reading! Those of us who fly more than three times a year are part of an exceptional group of people who are having a disproportionate impact on our planet.


Technological solutions that reduce aviation emissions, such as biofuels or hydrogen power are currently in development. However, these technologies are not yet ready for commercial deployment. Therefore, we must act now to reduce the demand for air travel.


> Reducing demand for air travel starts at work Advocate and help your company get organise and encourage alternatives to flying.

  • Switch to video conferencing. Organisations can invest in video conferencing equipment, train their staff to facilitate meetings online, and introduce policies that favour and reward video conferencing over traveling.

  • Embrace slow travel. The train is not always more expensive or longer than flying (see image below). But even when it is, it can have other benefits. Time spent on the train can be productive for work, and even networking, and there is no need to worry about luggage limits or liquid restrictions. So organisations could encourage slow travels and make it easier for their employees to travel sustainably; for example, by introducing policies that favour and reward greener transport choices, or changing their default option for continental travel.

> Reduce personal flying too.

  • Enjoy slow travel. For trips in the same country or continent, take the train or explore options using an electric car. A network of sleeper trains criss-crosses Europe, making train travel a time-efficient way to get to destinations such as Prague and Venice. When comparing prices, it is worth remembering the money saved on overnight accommodation. And the difference in carbon emissions is huge. Getting the train instead of flying from London to Prague saves 153kg of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of powering your home for three months!

  • To travel accross countries, use Trainline or Rail Europe, to buy tickets across countries. And check out the website of the Man in Seat 61 that will tell you the best options, routes and times wherever you want to go in Europe (and beyond!).

  • Buy a National Rail Card to get amazing prices when travelling in the UK, even for friends travelling with you.

  • Share your commitment. When you stop or reduce flying, advertise it. As for any behavioral change you are making with the planet in mind, share it. When one person makes a sustainability-oriented decision, other people do too. We often evaluate what our peers are doing and adjust our beliefs and actions accordingly. So contribute to creating a new norm: flying should be the last resort.

> When flying is unavoidable, a few things can limit the damage

  • Go brand new. Choose to fly with an airline that uses the newest aircraft possible for your route. These typically tend to be more efficient than older models and so produce less emissions. German non-profit Atmosfair has an index which allows people to check which airlines produce the least CO2 emissions for certain routes.

  • Travel economy and travel light. On average, a passenger in business class has a carbon footprint three times higher than someone in economy. Reduce the amount of stuff you take away with you.

  • Choose direct flights without layovers.

  • Offset your carbon footprint. See specific section.



 

DRIVING

 

> Leave the car at home

  • Instead of getting in the car, walk or cycle – and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits, and the money saved. For longer journeys, use public transport, or try car sharing schemes (Bablacar, Liftshare, Car Clubs ).

  • Live local as much as possible: shop local, local afterschool clubs for the kids, local restaurants, …


> If driving is unavoidable, a few things can limit the damage

  • Switch off the engine rather than idling if you think you will be stationary for more than two minutes. It will cut fuel consumption and help reduce air pollution.

  • Make sure the tyres are fully pumped, and that the oxygen sensors are in good order – this can improve the cars fuel mileage and efficiency by up to 3% and 40% respectively. You can also remove the roof rack and keep windows closed to reduce drag when driving at more than 40mph.

  • Keep driving smooth and steady– accelerating, and stopping and starting your car abruptly cause your engine to work harder than necessary. Driving at 50 mph uses 25% less fuel than 70 mph. Did you know that but travelling at less than 15mph creates the most pollution? As your speed increases up to 60mph, your level of pollution decreases. Travelling over 60mph increases your level of pollution again.

  • Use a small car. You can always rent a bigger one for specific occasions. By buying a smaller car for the majority of driving and renting a bigger car for the long trips, you will save on pollution and money.

  • Air conditioning should be limited as it uses more fuel.

  • Being stuck in traffic wastes gas and unneccessarily creates CO2. Use traffic websites and apps and go a different way or wait.

  • Investigate trading in your diesel or petrol car for an electric or hybrid model. Alternatively, if you only need one for a short time, there are some all-electric car hire companies. Find your nearest electric car charging points.

  • And... offset your carbon footprint.

Get more fuel-saving tips from the Environmental Transport Association 

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