Transport in the UK is the biggest contributor to climate change, and accounts for over a third of national greenhouse gases. The biggest sources of GHGs from transport are from cars and aviation.
Changing mode of transport especially for shorter journeys can have the easiest and biggest impact on transport emissions, as can reducing the number of flights. Transitioning to bikes or e-bikes, walking, using buses and trains, as well as moving to electric vehicles can help this happen.
In order to avert run away climate change, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be cut in half by 2030. In the UK, per person, we produce 28% more GHGs than the global average, meaning that if we want to lead the climate crisis, we need to cut our emissions by more than half.
This challenge has been created by Better Century to inspire people to halve average GHGs from transport. An average person in the UK produces 1,838 kgCO2e from transport per annum. The aim is for everyone undertaking this challenge to produce just 919 kgCO2e. If everyone did this we could cut nearly a fifth off the UKs greenhouse gas emissions.
Putting that into perspective, that’s just 3,200 miles in a single occupancy passenger average diesel or petrol car (calculate up for more occupants), or two flights too and from Munich, Germany (see calculations here). You can double your car passenger miles if you move to a plug in hybrid vehicle or can have unlimited miles if you move to an electric car. Flights are very much a luxury.
Let’s get on with it!
Step 1: Fill in the pledge below and if you think you are already achieving these targets then all the more reason to sign up to help inspire others!
Step 2: Write a short piece in response to this topic about what you think what changes you’re going to need to take to undertake this challenge. This post needs to attract five likes.
Step 3: Get one other person to sign up to Better Century to undertake this challenge. This can be simply done by sharing this topic on social media. When they join they need to put into the ‘Why did you join Better Century’ box that they joined because of you and this challenge.
Once you’ve done this challenge you will be awarded the low carbon transport badge for your efforts, with acknowledgement given under this topic. We will also be sending you a voucher from partner organisation and if you don’t want this we will make a donation of £5 to the Campaign for Better Transport.
I pledge to cut my personal carbon emissions from travel to 919 kgCO2e by the following means (give one answer to each poll)
(note alternative transport = bicycle, walk or public transport)
Please answer one of the following about use of a car
- I will limit the use of a vehicle by using alternative transport for commuting or short journeys under 5 miles, and will make at least 50% of my long journeys by public transport
- To have the car I use or the next one I purchase to be electric (and if this vehicle is provided by work I will lobby for my vehicle to be electric)
- Limit the emissions from personal vehicle use to my budget within the year (e.g. moving to lower carbon vehicle, car share schemes, sharing journeys)
Please answer at least one of the following about flying (note - your answers here do not include work travel)
- I will not fly unless absolutely necessary
- The flights I take annually will not exceed my transport budget
- Over a three year period the flights that I take will not exceed my cumulative transport budget
Please answer all of the following to complete the pledges for the low carbon transport challenge
- I will take this challenge seriously by considering my own transport emissions by calculating what I currently use (see useful calculator here)
- I will prioritise the purchase of local products with shorter miles for transport
- That personal maritime transport (ferry or otherwise) will be considered in undertaking this challenge
- I will let people involved in the challenge know what I’m doing and will share my frustrations and where necessary will lobby for change locally
- I will encourage my workplace, school or university to reduce their impact from transport by encouraging a reduction in the use of vehicle and flight miles and offsetting emissions from transport
- If I do not succeed in this challenge I will report back and will try and offset my carbon emissions
- I will engage others in this challenge
Calculations for Personal Transport Carbon Emissions
In 2018 the UK produced 121.4 million tonnes of CO2 from transport. With 66.04 million people in the UK, we produce 1.838 tCO2 each, 1,838 KGCO2e from transport.
Calculations of carbon emissions from modes of transport came from DEFRAs GHG Conversion Factors. An extrapolation of these figures are useful for calculating personal carbon emissions (feel free to download this spread sheet).
This table is taken from these calculations as a reference point for the translating the challenge target into vehicle miles.
Miles Travelled Per Person in a vehicle to hit 919 kgCO2e Target
|Type||Diesel Car||Petrol Car||Hybrid Car||Plug in Hybrid Car||Motorbike|
Break down UK GHG emissions from Transport**
|Source||Percentage of UK GHGs||% of Transport GHGs|
As Maritime and Aviation are not included in the UKs GHG annual budget these figures have been included from other sources resulting in the data being extrapolated.
- Reducing UK emissions 2018 Progress Report to Parliament, Committee on Climate Change
- IPCC Report 2018 WG3 AR5 Chapter 8 - Transport
- 2018 IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 degrees, Summary for Policymakers
- World Bank Data CO2 Emissions from Transport
- World Economic Forum Carbon Footprint Data
- 2018 UK GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, PROVISIONAL FIGURES
- EPA Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions *European Environment Agency Greenhouse gas emissions from Transport
- Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions
- Road use statistics Great Britain 2016
- 2018 Analyses from the National Travel Survey
- 2011 Review of UK Shipping Emissions Committee on Climate Change