Surface transport accounts for about a quarter of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions, private cars for more than half of that.  Flying is the most polluting form of transport per passenger mile.  So by changing our flying and driving habits we can make a significant contribution to slowing climate change.

Planes put greenhouse gases right where they do the most harm. They release CO2 high into the atmosphere where chemical reactions increase its global warming effect and their vapour trails also add to climate change. They burn most fuel on take off and landing which makes domestic and short haul flights more polluting per mile. First class is more polluting per passenger than business class which is more polluting than economy because you burn the same amount of fuel for fewer passengers.

Cars contribute to carbon emissions in three ways: the energy used to make a new car, the energy used to extract and transport fuel, and the CO2 emitted by the engine as it burns that fuel. They also emit other health-damaging pollutants at street level.

Trains are the best form of powered transport. Buses and coaches are still better than cars because they carry more people for the fuel used. Coaches are better than city buses because they don’t stop and start so much.

Cycling and walking are excellent!

There’s a detailed comparison of the carbon emissions in this blog post

greener transport solutions

walk it and bike it

Carbon Zero and great for the mind, body and environment.

go public

Public transport is the lower pollution way forward. Trains are the best.

drive less and drive greener

Any car can be driven in a more environment-friendly way by accelerating and breaking gently and sticking to the speed limits, but we also need to use cars less. Even electric cars have their environmental impact.

fly less… fly a lot less!

Because air travel is so polluting, reducing the amount you fly, or choosing not to fly, significantly reduces your carbon footprint.

 

greener transport suggestions for your change list

car free days challenge

For those who like a challenge and a reward... draw up a car-free calendar with tick boxes (or gold stars) for the day of the week. Give yourself a tick/star for each day you leave the car unused. Start by using the car as you always have done and see...

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Cycle into the sunset

Once you’ve started using the bike more instead of the car you’ll find that you’re getting fitter and that the cycling becomes easier and maybe even a pleasure! We have a good friend who took that route, and now cycling is one of her main social, leisure and holiday activities....

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train travel made easy

In 2001 former British Rail Station Manager, Mark Smith, set up a website as a hobby to help people plan train journeys across Europe. It's now an award-winning site called the man in seat 61 and it's a great resource if you’re looking for alternatives to flying.  Here’s what the...

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Don’t get stuck in the jam

Sitting in a traffic jam with the engine running, stopping and starting, and getting nowhere fast sends your blood pressure and your fuel consumption (ie carbon emissions) sky high. It’s crazy. So if you can’t walk or cycle or take the bus, tram or train, try to plan your car...

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Pack it or rack it

Why not get a folding bike or sort out a bike rack for work? We got a second-hand Brompton folding bike recently, and we love it. It packs up really small, is fun to ride, and fits on a train or by a desk if your commute or work travel...

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Leave early

New research from the Institute for the Blindingly Obvious shows that leaving 10 minutes earlier means that you can drive less frantically, more fuel efficiently and arrive relaxed and on time. (For those genetically incapable of leaving early we suggest simply planning to arrive everywhere 10 minutes late…it has the...

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Group your trips

If a lot of your car use is for short journeys on errands, school runs, dog walks and shopping trips, do a bit of planning and group the trips together so that you can cut the to and fro and take the car out once instead of lots of times....

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Don’t be a Bigfoot

It’s not complicated... accelerate gently, brake gently, coast when you can. It’s astonishing how much that can improve your car’s fuel consumption. There’s a word for it, hypermiling, that weirdly came from the US NASCAR scene which involves driving stock cars very fast in circles round a track. It’s not...

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Pump it up

If your tyres are flatter than they should be there’s more of them touching the road surface, so your engine has to work harder against the friction of tyre on tarmac. Check them regularly to make sure they’re at the right pressure for the best fuel consumption. It really does...

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get the bike gear

Whether you're using a bike for work, play or just getting around, the right clothes can make the difference between being dry, safe and happy or giving up.  I know it puts up the cost, but a helmet is a must (floppy ears optional) and please do get a bright...

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stay under the limit

Speed limits make driving (and walking and cycling) safer, but they also make it greener. Accelerating and braking gently so that you stay at or below the speed limit takes the stress out of driving and cuts fuel consumption.

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Google a bus

There was time when the challenge of finding the right bus or even the bus stop to get you where you wanted, and then working out the timetable, might have put you off using public transport altogether, but those days are gone thanks to Google maps on your phone. If...

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No more parking nightmares

Avoid the hideous hunt for a parking space. I remember with a groan the daily competition for on-street parking when I used to drive to work. Hunting the space could add 20 minutes to the commute and leave me with another 10 minute walk. That was enough to miss the...

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