Illustration of a hillside with people walking and cycling beside a pond

Modern life has made us all transport and travel junkies

We rely on vehicles to get where we want to go and to move the food, clothes and other goods we use every day.

In countries like the UK and the US, the transport sector is now responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than any other.

Second to housing, European households spend the largest share of their income on transport. In 2018, this amounted to an amazing 1.1 trillion euros in Europe alone.

Four ways to reduce your transport and travel carbon footprint

  1. travel less – cut down on unnecessary long-distance travel, particularly by plane
  2. go electric – driving an electric vehicle will slash your emissions
  3. walk and cycle more – it’s good for your health and virtually emission-free
  4. use public transport – you’ll be sharing the emissions with others
Cars in a traffic jam with fumes

Road vehicles, like cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes, account for nearly three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transport.

Much of this comes from the gases released when transport is on the road, at sea or in the air. 

At holiday time, millions of us jump on aircraft and fly thousands of miles. And lots of us fly off on business trips.

Every flight releases CO2 and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

Scientists don’t fully understand all the impacts, but they do see aviation as unique because it emits gases directly into the higher levels of the atmosphere. Research suggests that gases can have different effects when emitted at this altitude compare with at ground level.

So, we are addicted to transport and travel. Both have a big environmental impact. We can never wean ourselves off completely, but there are things we can all do to reduce the harm.

If you feel you just have to fly, first take a look at this advice from the consumer group Which?

How to choose the greenest flights

1. Use Skyscanner and Google Flights

Both search tools will highlight the greenest flights so you can compare the CO2 savings and choose the most efficient airline for your route.

2. Fly economy

Business and first class are responsible for up to four times more CO2 per passenger. 

3. Avoid stopovers

Fly direct where possible. Taking off uses more fuel than cruising. 

4. Pack light

A heavier plane guzzles more fuel. If you want to travel with cabin bags only, these are the airlines with the most generous hand luggage allowances

5. Take the train

Consider travelling by rail for short journeys. For example, Eurostar emits up to 90% less carbon than a plane.

Thinking of upgrading to a shiny new electric car?

Great idea! But don't be in a screaming rush to ditch your old car.

If you already have one that runs on petrol or diesel, remember that a third of a vehicle's lifetime carbon emissions are generated during manufacture.

Manufacturing uses massive amounts of energy and raw materials. 

So, even if you’re itching to upgrade, it’s often better for the environment to keep your old banger on the road as long as possible. 

Then, when the time comes for it to go to the great car park in the sky, you'll have got full carbon value from it.

Just make sure you keep it well maintained while you have it!

Next section: The way you shop

Charging an electric vehicle
Grass growing in untidy tufts

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