A new study out of the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York reports on “a significant breakthrough in climate change policy by showing how to make drastic cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transport.”
Beyond the matter-of-fact carbon emissions reductions it finds possible, it also doesn’t neglect to discuss how the identified transportation changes would make life less stressful, quieter, and healthier, among other things.
It is well-known that transportation is one of the leading causes of global warming. And NASA has actually found that automobiles are the largest net contributor to climate change. Thus, cutting transportation emissions means a big cut in total global warming emissions.
The Stockholm Environment Institute project found that, compared with a business-as-usual scenario, incorporating certain technological, financial, and behavioral changes, CO2 emissions could be cut 100% in road transport (cars and trucks), 100% in rail transport, 56% in aviation transport, and 49% in shipping. In total, transportation emissions in the UK would be cut 76%.
“The project took an evidence-based approach that meant reductions were included only if there was already-available experience showing that they could be achieved,” Science Daily reports.
As I just discussed in another story, the researchers also found that the transportation changes that would result in this major cut in greenhouse gas emissions would also reduce fatalities from car accidents.
Professor John Whitelegg of the Stockholm Environment Institute and co-author of the study says: “This project marks a significant break with traditional thinking that regards transport as too hard to deal with when it comes to greenhouse gas reduction. We have shown that the potential is much greater than anyone previously thought and that reductions in emissions go hand in hand with improvements in air quality, health and economic success.”
What Transportation Changes Would be Required to Achieve These Emissions Reductions?
The policy recommendations could be considered radical, but they are also considered to be quite achievable. The recommendations include:
- Spatial planning to create neighbourhoods and communities where it is possible to reach destinations on foot or by bicycle and public transport
- New approaches to the regionalisation of production and consumption to bring about reductions in road freight
- Increases in the cost of transport to implement the so-called “polluter pays principle”
- Full de-carbonisation of the UK electricity supply system (as envisaged by the Climate Change Committee)
- Full conversion of all cars to Plug In Electric Vehicles or Hydrogen Fuel Cells utilising de-carbonised electricity
This is achievable, but it requires people get out of the mindset that we cannot change the way we do things. If we could not, we would not be living in the world we live in today. So, why not open up to the future and go after these very achievable and beneficial goals?!
Photo Credit: Train Chartering & Private Rail Cars via flickr
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