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Climate Top Tips - Surface Transport and Aviation

Aug 16, 2008
Tips for reducing your CO2 emissions fall into a number of categories, with surface transport (driving) and aviation at the top of most lists.

Surface transport is responsible for about a quarter of our emissions of CO2 and this is forecast to rise in the future. In the past 30 years traffic on our roads has more than doubled. Here is a list of 12 simple and cost-effective you can do to drastically reduce your personal CO2 emissions and your impact on the environment.

1. Do you need to drive your child to school? Sharing the school-run with a roster of parents is a great way to cut congestion, reduce emissions and save on your fuel bill.

2. Don't drive to the pub for your Sunday roast and make a day of it and cycle or walk instead.

3. Give your car a day off! Can you find a way to make your journey to work on foot, by bike or using public transport, for a few days a week?

4. Small is beautiful. If you have to drive, a small, fuel-efficient car will produce less polluting emissions than a gas-guzzling 4x4 and and will be cheaper to run as well. Be aware though that although diesel cars tend to produce less CO2, they do produce more of other pollutants, which aggravate asthma and other health problems.

5. Change your fuel. Many cars can use biofuels with little or no modification to the engine. Biofuels are produced from crops such as oil seed rape or sugar beet, and burning them produces lower emissions of climate-changing gases. Ask your garage or find a filling station which already sells it.

6. Keep your car tyres properly inflated. It's estimated that up to 80 per cent of car tyres are under-inflated, which can increase fuel consumption, and therefore emissions, by up to 5 per cent and as well as increasing wear and tear.

7. Why not rent a car on a pay-as-you-drive scheme, rather than buying one?

8. Another idea is to share. You can ask your employer to do something to encourage lower car use, such as provide showers for cyclists to use or run minibuses from local stations.

9. Drive with the windows up. This reduces drag, thus increasing your fuel consumption efficiency and lowering your emissions. Drag can also be lessened by removing heavy items and roof racks from the vehicle when you don't need to carry them.

10. Switch off the engine if you think you will be stationary for more than two minutes. Idling for this long burns more fuel than it takes to restart the engine.

11. Change your driving style. Changing gear at a more modest engine speed can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent. When you are approaching traffic lights, slow down progressively rather than continuing at the same speed and suddenly braking; harsh acceleration and braking can use up to 30% more fuel and can lead to increased wear and tear on the vehicle. Plus, pulling away too fast uses up to 60 per cent more fuel.

12. Avoid short car journeys. A cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel as a warmer one. Take a walk in the fresh air to the local shops instead. It's good for you!

Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. Passenger numbers could more than double by 2030, and emissions from aviation could account for more than a tenth of worldwide totals by 2020. Cutting down on the amount you and your family fly will make a huge difference to your carbon footprint. Here is a list of 4 simple and cost-effective you can do to drastically reduce your personal CO2 emissions and your impact on the environment.

13. Holiday in your own country. Flights abroad might seem cheap, but when you consider taxes and the cost of getting to the airport they often work out much more expensive than a train trip within these beautiful islands. And that's not to mention the emissions you'll save - one long-haul return flight can produce more. Or, if carbon dioxide per passenger than the average motorist in one year you are going to holiday abroad, try and get the train.

14. Hire bicycles instead of a car if you are exploring locally. Not only will this save emissions, you'll save yourself some money too and and help to burn off any holiday excess.

15. Cut down on business trips. Do you really need to travel to meet with colleagues? Could you use phone or video-conferencing? And if you really do need to travel, go by train rather than car or plane and as well as often being quicker, you'll be able to get some work done.

16. If you are staying in a hotel on holiday, ask for your towels to be washed every other day instead of every day.
About the Author
James Nash is a climate scientist with Greatest Planet. Greatest Planet is a non-profit environmental organization specialising in carbon offset investments. Greatest Planet's website can be found at www.greatestplanet.org

James Nash is solely responsible for the contents of this article.
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