Transport MonthAs many of you (hopefully) already know, October is officially Transport Month in South Africa. It’s a time when the nation, as individuals and organisations, takes stock of our transportation habits and their effect on the environment. In doing so, many of us make small changes for the month in order to support the cause, but then fail to carry the changes forward. As Transport Month comes to an end, we at The Carbon Report implore you to not let these small changes slip. If, however, you made no such changes or efforts, allow this article to educate and enlighten you, in the hope that you make these changes moving forward.

So why is transport so important to the environment?

Private transportation is one of the biggest global causes of the increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which trap and hold heat in the atmosphere, ultimately leading to global warming. As such, elevated levels of GHGs are terrible for our environment. In South Africa, transportation is the second highest cause of GHG emissions, composing a massive 13% of total GHG emissions, with electricity generation being the largest contributor. Similarly, transportation is the second biggest cause of GHGs in both Europe and the United States. In SA, this number is expected to continue to grow, as the ever-increasing middle class leads to more cars on the road, and thus more carbon emissions. Again, this is a global trend as transportation has been deemed to be the fastest growing source of GHG emissions.

What can you do to reduce greenhouse gases?

Having come to the shocking revelation that our transport habits are slowly destroying the planet, you’re probably wondering if you can do anything that will make some form of change. Many people choose to answer this self-imposed question with the logic that one person can’t make that much of a difference (and in doing so curb the feeling of guilt that you yourself may have just experienced). Just remember that each and every effort makes a difference, and that by making a small change you could be setting a good example and a precedent for change on a larger level. Which brings us back to the question at hand; what can be done? Fear not, the list is long.

  1. Play your part in reducing the number of private vehicles on the road. This can be done in many ways, such as:
    • Car pool with friends/ colleagues when attending work or social gatherings
    • Make use of public transportation
    • Bike it to work if you’re close enough, or even
    • Walk it!
  1. Do your bit in reducing air travel (a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town emits almost half a ton of CO2 – carbon dioxide!). Again, there are ways of making this happen:
    • If you aren’t in a rush, take the train
    • Or better yet, set up Skype meetings if the trip is business related
    • Make more use of sea travel and sea freight
    • Think before you courier: if it isn’t urgent, it doesn’t need to go on a plane (road and sea freight is cheaper too).
  1. Make a change in your professional capacity to reduce GHG emissions. This can be done in the following ways:
    • Encourage your colleagues to car pool (and to spread the word)
    • Promote localisation to shorten the supply chain of goods and services
    • If your firm uses company cars or fleets of vehicles, implore them to use hybrid vehicles the next time they need to be replaced.
  1. Encourage cities, governments, municipalities and corporates to take steps toward a more sustainable future. These are just some of the things that those in power could do to help out:
    • Improved spatial planning of cities to reduce the need for transport
    • Better public transportation systems to encourage public transport adoption
    • Promote and fund research into vehicle technologies that require less/ different fuels or research into more sustainable fuel sources.

So what now?

As you can see, there are many steps, both big and small, that we can take towards a more sustainable future and a healthier planet. The biggest task, that we now bestow upon you, is to actually take these steps. It isn’t all that hard, and our advice is to start small and work your way up. Remember, every little bit counts. So go out there,

Be the change.

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