Saving energy from getting about and travel
By 'getting about' I mean those every day or frequent trips such as commuting to work, going shopping and all the other short trips we make. The corresponding chapter in my book also includes travelling further afield to visit family and friends and to go on holiday. But I exclude business travel.
Astonishingly, in England almost half of all trips of under two miles are made by car. So one way to cut down on emissions from getting about is to walk or cycle these short distances; it may take a little longer but one gets the benefit of the exercise at same time. On average public transport causes fewer emissions per passenger per kilometre than a private car with no passengers so taking the bus, tram or train is another sensible alternative, particularly for trips of more than two miles or so. The results of a travel survey in England conducted in 2014 are given in a sample from my book in the opposite panel.
It is very tempting to fly long haul to exotic holiday locations but such flights cause very large greenhouse gas emissions mostly because of the great distances involved. A return flight to Sydney, Australia for example will emit as much as two-fifths of the average UK citizen's annual carbon footprint. It is easy to avoid flying to most other locations within continental Europe by using the network of high-speed trains. Eurostar trains from London St Pancras International link up with high-speed* services to the centres of many large continental cities. Some discussion of the emissions from flying, from my book, appear in the opposite panel.
*high-speed is defined as more than 200 km/hour. Some Italian trains operate at 360 km/hour.
"38 per cent of all trips are made for shopping, personal business and transporting children (excluding taking them to school), 30 per cent for visiting friends or other leisure activities, 16 per cent for commuting, 12 per cent for education (including taking children to school) and, surprisingly, only three per cent of trips are for business travel.
To get a feel for which trips contribute most to English households’ carbon footprint we need to consider the distances travelled and, eventually, the modes of transport. The survey shows that for distances travelled the rankings are somewhat different. 39 per cent of the distances travelled are taken up with visiting friends or other leisure activities, 25 per cent with shopping, personal business and transporting children, 20 per cent with commuting, ten per cent for business and only five per cent for education (including taking children to school). Ignoring business travel, which is beyond the scope of this book, it is clear that the trips that on average are longest, by a factor of two or more, are those for leisure activities, visiting friends and commuting."
"People’s attitudes to flying and climate change are revealing. As an editorial in the scientific journal Nature said recently “Aviation has become a symbol of the world’s reluctance to make serious efforts to tackle climate change — perhaps unfairly, given its relatively slight (although growing) contribution to the global-warming problem. On an individual level, those who travel by air leave gigantic carbon footprints, governments continue to invest in runways and airports, and the industry remains focused on growth.” Some people, encouraged by airline advertising, look upon flying as a sign of status and their success in life. Others just seem unwilling to acknowledge the connection between their flights and climate change. .... There is no doubt that the emissions from individuals’ ‘frequent flying’, another form of status encouraged by airlines, can easily become the largest part of an individual’s carbon footprint."