How much of a difference can we make by our individual decisions about how to transport ourselves?
Emissions from transport (road, rail, air and sea) accounted for 24% of global emissions in 2016, and have been increasing ever since.
Which form of transport is the most efficient?
The most obvious answer is the right one. As the graph below shows, walking and cycling are the most energy-efficient, whilst flying is the least.
Source – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49349566 Based on BEIS/DEFRA Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factors 2019
Numerous factors affect the carbon footprint of our journeys, for example:
- As impact is measured per person/per km, sharing our car with 3 others will reduce the measure of our personal carbon footprint, although the journey might actually create more CO2 because of the additional weight in the car.
- By plane, if we sit in First Class, therefore taking up more space, our carbon footprint is higher than in Economy.
- An electric train in a country using nuclear as a source for electricity (eg France) will do less harm than a train in a country which uses coal for electricity (eg Poland).
A plane flying at a lower attitude will do less harm than a flight at a higher altitude, however, as it is likely to carry fewer passengers, the carbon footprint of each person is higher.