There are now around 750 million cars in the world and predictions are that if the present trend continues, the number will double in the next 30 years. Almost all of these vehicles are powered by fossil fuels. These pump pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, into the air. Sustainable transportation refers to any means of travel which is green and has a low impact on the environment. Examples of sustainable transportation include walking, cycling, transit, carpooling, car sharing, and green vehicles – such as electric cars.
Cars consume a lot of energy before they ever make it to the open road. Automotive production leaves a giant footprint because materials like steel, rubber, glass, plastics, paints, and many more must be manufactured for the car. When they get onto the road, they are even worse. Our travel infrastructure pollutes heavily due to such a high number of privately owned cars – these vehicles not only are a huge contributor to global warming, but also pollute the air affecting our health. So much so, in fact, that road transport accounts for 22% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. Considering the urgency of the climate crisis, it is essential that we change the way we travel.
The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution is responsible for 6.5 million deaths a year. The pollutants from cars include nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and sulfur oxides. These compounds exacerbate chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD, as well as increasing the likelihood of stroke, heart disease and lung cancer.
There are solutions to fix this huge issue. These solutions can easily be implemented by you! Making small changes in your transport and travel habits can be easily done with no cost at all. You should try to walk or cycle to places which are close enough. This is not only good for the environment but also improves our physical and mental health. If you’re travelling long distances, consider using public transport. If one bus can hold 50 people going to the same place – that’s a possible 50 less cars on the road. Car sharing is also a great way to reduce pollution – even if it is with one other person, the average car emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year and using public transport and car sharing can easily reduce this. These changes not only reduce emissions but can also save you money, with less money being spent on fuel.
Sustainable travel during the holidays is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Holidaying at home rather than travelling abroad is a great example. One flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh (530km) uses 10,668kg of fuel, which releases a little over 33 tonnes of CO2 – and driving 340 cars from Heathrow to Edinburgh would release the same amount of CO2. Holidaying at home can have a much lower impact on the environment, as well as being more affordable. I myself had great fun on a holiday in Wales.
It is up to us to be the change we want to see, transport is such a huge source of pollution in the world, and so it is up to us to start reducing this. The best way for this to happen is to make these changes in your own life. Walk, cycle and use public transport as much as possible. It is essential we reduce our emissions if we want a more sustainable, and healthier earth.