The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that just under 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions originate in the United States. While the pollution stems from a variety of sources, an examination of the transportation footprint of American residents quickly illustrates the need and opportunities for change.
The transportation options available today are vast – cars, airplanes, trains, bikes and of course, walking. The connection between carbon dioxide and cars is irrefutable. Thus, transportation-focused conversations target ways in which a person can modify their behaviour in order to reduce their transportation footprint.
While many jobs require a certain amount of travel, choosing the train instead of a plane or finding ride-sharing opportunities whenever possible have a profound impact in the movement towards reducing transportation footprints. Moreover, seeking opportunities to connect with clients and colleagues via teleconferences and webinars can drastically reduce a person’s transportation footprint.
A recent article published by The Guardian indicates that “reducing the mileage of the average new car from 15,000 to 10,000 miles a year will save more than a tonne of CO2, about 15% of the average person’s footprint.”
Acknowledging that we are all interconnected and that the transportation decisions made by one person can impact another individual is a positive step in the quest to lessen the impact of carbon dioxide and cars. Each time a car is removed from the road there is less chance of traffic congestion, vehicle idling and unnecessary greenhouse gas emission production.
It is important to also consider the environmental impact of a vehicle’s supply chain and to remember that new is not always better. Regular vehicle maintenance can extend a car’s lifespan, ultimately cutting down the amount of emissions created through the manufacturing and distribution of a new vehicle, and the disposal of an older one.
There is no quick fix in the quest to address the issue of transportation and greenhouse gas emissions. The focus must therefore be on educating individuals on the impact their transportation decisions have today and in the future. The alternatives available make it possible for each person to reduce their transportation footprint today, setting the stage for changes that will last beyond tomorrow.