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The Carbon

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Question: Can I reduce my carbon emissions which are produced when I travel?


  • When you travel, you can go by a variety of different methods. But practical reasons may prevent you from using the methods which produce the least Carbon emissions.
  • According to this report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, transport (including domestic air travel) accounts for nearly 27% of Carbon emissions
  • Some further facts from the report:
    • Transport is the third most important contributor to carbon emissions.
    • By 2020 it is estimated that this will have increased by 33% from the 1990 figures.
    • Individuals can make a real difference e.g. observing speed limits could reduce a car’s emissions by 5-20%.
    • For the average car, about 360g of carbon dioxide is produced for every mile travelled (NEF conversion figure).
Technological improvements: 46%, Car restraint and decreasing fuel use: 22%, Altering perceptions about travel: 7%, Improvements in public transport, walking and cycling: 15%, Reducing the need to travel: 10%

Click to enlarge

The diagram right (adapted from the Tyndall report) suggests where reductions for carbon emissions due to our transport might be made.

Your task:

  • You are going to see if it is practical for you and your family to make immediate changes to the way in which you travel and see if you can reduce your carbon emissions: you will possibly have the added benefit of saving money.
  • Stage 1:
    Data about your travel – gather the following information.
    • Total miles travelled by car in a month by your family.
    • Total fuel bought.
    • Total cost for the fuel.
    • Calculate your approximate carbon dioxide emissions based on 360g carbon dioxide for every mile travelled.
    • If you are interested in how good or bad your car is – go to  this website (keep the values on the second screen at the bottom set to 0)
  • Stage 2:
    Look at the following list and write out a strategy to reduce the distance you travel in the next month.
    • Share lifts.
    • Keep to speed limits.
    • Avoid accelerating too fast.
    • Check tyre pressures.
    • Plan journeys to cut down on the number you do e.g. one big shop as opposed to lots of small ones.
    • Use local shops.
    • Order your weekly shop on-line and get a home delivery.
    • Use public transport.
    • Reduce the number of short journeys and try to walk or cycle.
    • Buy one of the new ‘energy’ efficient fuels or bio-fuels.
    • Shop as part of your journey to or from work.
    • Take off roof racks.
    • Only use the ‘air-conditioning’ when you have to.
    • If you have two cars, use the more economical one.
    • Avoid carrying around extra weight in your boot – leave heavy tools at home.
  • Stage 3:
    • After a month, recalculate the figures from stage 1 and work out your saving in Carbon emissions for your family.
    • Calculate the possible savings over the year.
  • Further actions:
    Go to  Transport 2000, which is a website devoted to changing the way we travel.  Read their Campaigns and projects page and get involved with one.
  • Discussion:
    • Do you think that the savings that your family made are big enough to make a real difference?
    • What difficulties did you have in making these savings?
    • If you did make a saving, what motivated you and your family?
    • Will you continue to try to make savings?

Next station:

Travel to TREE PLANTER to help ‘off-set’ your carbon emissions.

Next: Tree Planter