Transport Month: shifting gears for the environment
Being predominantly dependant on fossil fuels like oil and gas, the burning of which is the major cause of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, transport contributes substantially to climate change. In South Africa it is the second highest greenhouse gas emitting sector, contributing about 13% to the country’s overall emissions.
If we hope to combat climate change, one of the biggest changes we will have to make is the way in which we transport people and goods.
The first step will be to reduce our transport needs. We can do this by shortening the length of both global and domestic supply chains, thereby reducing the movement of goods. This means growing food closer to where we buy it, decentralised transport hubs and local manufacturing. Changing the way we plan our cities so that people can accomplish more while travelling less would go a long way to reducing transport emissions given the high (and growing) concentrations of people living in cities.
We can also change the manner in which we travel and transport goods by shifting from carbon-intensive modes of transport to ‘low carbon modes’ of transport. This might mean shifting from air travel to high-speed rail or from road freight to rail, sea and waterways. For passenger transport this would mean increasing the use of non-motorised transport and using public rather than private transport, since passenger cars emit more than half of global transport emissions.
Reducing the number of private cars on the road would also help. To this end Carpool Week (6-10 October) is encouraging South Africans to share transport, or ‘carpool’. Since 33% of South African’s travel to work by private car, mostly one person per car leaving millions of empty seats on our roads, carpooling provides a solution to traffic congestion, affordable mobility and emissions reduction.
Click here to find out more about Carpool Week 2014.
Improving technology is the third answer to reducing transport sector emissions. More sustainable fuel sources, better vehicle technology and improved energy efficiency of electric vehicles would have a key role to play in transforming transport.
Get involved by taking a carpool selfie and tweeting it, using the hashtags #giveitago and #carpoolweekSA and tagging in @WWFSouthAfrica. Think about what you can do to reduce, shift and improve your transport habits'.