Cutting carbon

The UK has set itself demanding targets for reducing carbon as part of the international battle against climate change. Given the scale of the challenge we face in limiting climate change, transport in the cities needs to play its full part.

Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the longer term

The Stern Review

CO2 emissions chart thumbnail - click to explore chart

Domestic transport is responsible for 21% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Passenger cars are the largest contributor to CO2 emissions within the transport sector, accounting for over half of emissions.

Click here to enlarge the chart and explore the data.

Cars are the biggest source of land based carbon emissions from transport in the cities - and cars are also where the fastest progress is being made in reducing carbon from the vehicles themselves. But still by 2022 cars are expected to be responsible for most of the carbon from transport in the cities. Which is why there's a need to both encourage take-up of lower carbon ways of travelling alongside stepping up the greening of both cars themselves and the way in which they are used and driven.

City cycle lane

Meanwhile, in urban areas the air we breathe can still fall well below the standards set for air quality. Greening the bus fleet is particularly important as this has wider air quality benefits if older, more polluting buses can be replaced as part of a policy of modal shift.

Greener cities are more attractive places to live, work and invest in. Research for Transport for London, for example, has shown that areas with good public transport access, as well as those with high quality environments that are more geared towards pedestrians, experience higher residential and retail property prices. These factors have also been shown to rank highly in the business location decisions of investors.

There are also considerable job creation benefits associated with investing in green transport. For example, the creation of 100 direct rail jobs supports a further 140 indirect and induced jobs. Investment in the same number of direct motor industry jobs supports just 48 additional jobs.

According to research by consultants Atkins (2010), the seven best and most cost effective ways of cutting carbon from transport in the cities are:

  • Support for the take-up of low carbon vehicles
  • Stricter enforcement of speed limits
  • Driver training programmes (eco-driving)
  • Provision of improved cycling infrastructure
  • Roll-out of smarter choices initiatives and campaigns in targeted areas
  • Improvements in bus fleet efficiency
  • Introduction of workplace parking levy or equivalent demand management
Share this