Green Transport

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Transport is currently responsible for more than a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions, and these emissions are rising rapidly. The growth of road and air transport, which is powered mainly by fossil fuels, has resulted in a significant rise in greenhouse gas emissions from this sector over the past decade.

The Department for Transport (DfT) recognises that the transport sector needs to play a key role in helping to deliver cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Yet some means of transport are more sustainable [less carbon intensive] than others. Recent Government figures show that for the journey between London and Edinburgh:

  • by rail, the average passenger is responsible for about 12 kilograms of CO2 emissions from an electric powered train;
  • by car, the journey burns up 70 kgs of CO2 per passenger;
  • by air, the figure is nearly 100 kgs of CO2.

Road transport emits six times more CO2 per passenger mile than rail, but motoring costs have fallen in recent years. Meanwhile, rail is far more carbon efficient, but rail fares have increased steeply.

Related links

This ToUChstone pamphlet argues that a move to a greener economy would allow the UK to kick-start growth at a time of recession and create jobs, with electric vehicles providing a major opportunity to help the UK motor industry towards a sustainable long-term recovery. Unlocking Green Enterprise (2009)

This groundbreaking report sets out the TUC’s view on a sustainable transport strategy. Greening the Workplace (2005)

A DfT consultation paper. Delivering a Sustainable Transport System: Consultation on Planning for 2014 and Beyond

Treasury-commissioned reports on the vehicle and fuel technologies that could help to decarbonise road transport over the next 25 years. The King Review of Low-Carbon Cars Part I: The Potential for CO2 reduction (2007) and Part II: Recommendations for Action (2008)

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