[Challenge] Low Carbon Transport

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)

0 voters

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

0 voters

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

0 voters


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
Small 4,019 3,715 5,428 19,458 6,762
Medium 3,347 2,970 5,241 8,062 5,550
Large 2,726 2,018 4,333 7,386 4,229
Average 3,294 3,158 4,977 8,071 4,944

Break down UK GHG emissions from Transport**

Source Percentage of UK GHGs % of Transport GHGs
Cars 15 39.5%
Aviation 7 18.4%
HGVs 4 10.5%
Vans 4 10.5%
Maritime 4 9.3%
Other Transport 2 5.3%
Buses 1 2.6%
Rail 1 2.6%
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.


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Some relevant topics to this challenge:


So I’ve done the calculation of my personal carbon emissions from transport per year using this calculator:

10,000 miles in car for the family which is a VW Bluemotion which does on average 60 miles per gallon. That’s 2,433 kg of CO2 of which I share with my wife and two children, but will take 1/3 of the responsibility meaning I produce 811 KG from driving.

Annually I think I travel about 4,000 miles by train which accounts for 316kg CO2.

We will have taken two return trips this year to Ireland by ferry accounting for 300 miles, which comes out at 75kg, which is for me and the family (wife and two kids). I’ll take a 1/3 of the responsibility at 25kg.

I don’t intend to take any flights this year, so I think that’s it! I produce 1,152 kg of CO2 a year from transport.

To cut this down I’m going to take as many trips as possible on the train instead of driving, especially for business. I will continue not to commute by working from home and will use my bike as much as possible. I will also cut down transport from the family by attempting to plan longer trips to see relatives.

The next car we buy will definitely be an electric car, but that’s in a few years time now…

Please like my post to help me complete the challenge!


Hi. I’ve had a go on the calculator for what I know at the moment. My partner and I are flying to US in a few weeks (XR allowing!)which uses a whopping 3600 each, so we’ve rather blown it already. We will be offsetting these flights so redeem ourselves a little bit. This is why I’ve chosen the 3 year option regarding flights, as we don’t plan any more for a good while to come. Roadwise, we gave swapped two petrol cars for one electric a couple of years ago, so have maybe some kg ‘banked’ from this. My partner now gets the bus to work and I walk where I can. Aside from that we don’t really use any more transport, as we try to use the EV for all travelling in the UK now. It has saved us a fortune. I found the calculator helpful and like the challenge as it gives something to aim for. I’ll keep a track regularly now


Just met with these guys in centre of Bristol, selling electric scooters with portable batteries that charge in your home 3pin socket, giving over 100km in a couple of hours for a few pence



I spotted a mistake in the table of Miles Travelled Per Person in a vehicle to hit 919 kgCO2e Target: the petrol and diesel car headings are switched, which I confirmed by checking the original gov spreadsheet. Diesel cars have lower CO2 emmissions than petrol cars despite their controversially high emmissions of particulate and NOx.

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Chris, thanks a lot and well spotted. Have updated the google sheet accordingly.

Really sorry everyone but we’ve had to re-issue the challenge as the polls weren’t showing who has voted. I’ve messaged everyone affected but please fill in the poll again.

Sorry and thanks in advance!

@MDavies thanks for joining the challenge. Do remember to tick the boxes in the final poll to ocomplete the pledge and to write something short about how you’re going to deliver the pledge.

Still waiting for someone to complete the challenge so to be awarded the badge and to make a donation to Campaign for Better Transport…

Whilst I haven’t done any calculations on this yet (couldn’t quite figure out the calculator) I hope this is one that I’m already doing quite well on. All my commuting is done by bike as is most of my general travel around London (going to the cinema, theatre etc). We don’t do much driving - but do own an electric car as all most of our family live outside London. We get a fortnightly supermarket delivery and almost always select a ‘green’ slot - and any top up shopping is done locally. We have already made a decision to cut flights - we haven’t flown for 2 years - and to holiday either in the UK or places we can travel to by train (or when we are brave enough to try taking the Leaf to Europe!). However, there is always room for improvement and I’m definitely happy to keep trying!


Sorry - noticed this wasn’t updated on the content of the challenge as well… fixed!

Kerena - thanks. The calculator isn’t quite as good as it could be. We’ve found an alternative which works well :slightly_smiling_face:


OK, now done. That calculator is much better! Was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I did the secondary bit - but that doesn’t count on this challenge! (Having said that, I’m still closer to the World Target footprint than the Country Average, which is reassuring).


Hey! I’ve been thinking about transport a lot over the last few years - I now work from home and walk the kids the 1.5miles to school as many days as logistically possible. I use my car for the supermarket shop and a couple of kids clubs each week. (I don’t want to stop these things right yet, but when it’s time to move on from them, we’ll choose more local activities.) I’ve just started thinking more about longer journeys - how necessary they are, best mode of transport and will be trying to find the best ways of making those journeys from now on… There’s a couple of things on my mind - 1. is it better or worse environmentally to get shopping delivered? (the supermarket is 0.5 miles from my house - down a steep hill, no bus service) 2. I’ve been invited to celebrate an important birthday next year in NY, travelling from the UK - whichever way I think about it, it seems bad - I can’t let this person down and would feel like a total party-pooper to refuse and bang on about carbons, on the other hand it seems crazy to put so much effort into reducing my emmissions only to go to the other side of the Atlantic for a long weekend… what to do?


Hey Jess. Thanks for the shared experience trying to lower impacts from transport. There are loads of options for people with heavily reduced car usage like rental or car share schemes which can be a lot cheaper, and you can get access to electric vehicles.

We’re trying to get an answer on the delivery’s question… Something we need someone in the community to do a bit of research about.

I wouldn’t feel too bad about the flight; all of us will have to take them now and again.

Seems you’re in line to achieve the challenge though and hopefully loads more likes from others to give encouragement! :heart:


We sold our 1965 old Chevy truck and tried to buy an electric car but, here in Mexico, they are still too expensive. So we are handling with walking, biking and, when necesary, using the bussiness truck. Let’s hope they get cheaper so we can get one.


Great work on your day-to-day reductions! If you want to go to the birthday, I wouldn’t sweat the flight :slight_smile:

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Great work! I’m worried about flights myself… I do love to travel :slight_smile: But now that I work remotely, I can definitely take fewer flights by spending much longer time in my destination :smiley:

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