Reducing our carbon tyre print

Date: 25th Friday, October, 2019

A recent report issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) unveils some interesting trends in road transport carbon emissions.  With a positive transition to more fuel efficient vehicles, including broader uptake of electric cars and lorries, anecdotally, one may be forgiven for thinking that we are on track to make those essential reductions in CO2 emissions to enable us to reach zero by 2050 - but apparently - it isn’t that straightforward. 

Road Transport accounts for around 20% of the UK’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions which is a huge contributor.  Since 1990, there has been a 29% increase in the number of road miles travelled.  Whilst this increase is significant, due to engine efficiencies and adoption of electric alternatives, total fuel consumption has actually been relatively stable over this period.  Environmental campaigners are not surprisingly calling for a reduction in vehicle miles, however, achieving this will be tough as our very existence depends on it. 

Whilst the economy is performing OK and employment rates remain high, the freedom to travel without restriction will undoubtedly continue.  So, how can road miles be reduced?  Well, there’s always some form of legislation that could curb our vehicle usage – but this wouldn’t necessarily be popular.  There are schemes, many of which have been around for some years such as car share and then there’s the ‘keep out of my city’ initiatives focused on the creation of cleaner air zones – enter only if you are a low-emission vehicle or you will be charged.  And, of course, there is public transport which is also undergoing a positive renaissance in many cities.  

Awareness of the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment has increased over recent times with the emergence of environmental campaigners and activist groups.  All grist to the mill, but for most mere mortals the transition to a net-zero carbon emission mind-set that promotes an ethical conscience may take some time – not to mention - cost.  This may be accelerated by adverse economic or financial circumstances forcing people to question the need or method of travel. 

For business, goods still have to be transported and meetings held.  The biggest game-changer is likely to be inexpensive technology.  Once electric vehicle costs become more affordable uptake is likely to rocket. This may not reduce road miles, as congestion and road infrastructure are playing their part, but it will inevitably reduce an individual’s carbon tyre print and collectively make a positive contribution to a healthier environment for everyone.

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