It’s generally agreed the world over that transportation is the largest contributor to global warming. As such, governments have begun heavily investing in high-speed rail projects and other transport schemes in order to keep emissions down. In the UK a new study out of the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York has reported “a significant breakthrough in climate change policy by showing how to make drastic cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transport.” The study revealed that a low-carbon transport future would create a less stressful, quieter, healthier, more resilient and confident society. While you may be thinking this is a blatantly obvious statement, the really interesting part is actually how society would go about reducing those emissions. From the technological to the financial to behavioral changes, those in the UK feel that a clear and phased program could potentially enable a 76 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.
If the plan is successful, the next few decades would see reductions of: 100 percent to road transport (cars and lorries), 100 percent in rail transport, 56 percent in aviation, and 49 percent in shipping — all together equating to a 76 percent cut in CO2 emissions for the UK. While these figures may seem like wishful thinking, the study was reportedly done on an evidence-based approach, meaning these reductions were calculated on “already-available experience, ” or in other words, these results have already been achieved and recorded.
An innovative approach was taken in specifying the reduction potential from spatial, technological, fiscal and behavioral changes. As such, the report targeted areas where reductions can be made to the maximum effect and implemented over the next 40 years. A number of the radical measures include: spatial planning to create communities where destinations are reachable on foot or by bicycle and public transport; new approaches to localizing the production of consumable goods; increases in the cost of carbon-heavy transport to push the “polluter pays principle;” full de-carbonization of the UK electricity supply system (as envisaged by the Climate Change Committee); and full conversion of all cars to plug-in electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cells utilizing de-carbonized electricity
Professor John Whitelegg of the Stockholm Environment Institute and co-author of the study said: “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.” But while this all sounds great on paper, realistically, can it be achieved? At the moment it appears to be the contrary — in the wake of the global recession, the UK’s high-speed rail plans have come to a halt, and airplane usage has increased.
Via Science Daily