Longer distances

“We all need to travel longer distances at some time. This guidance shows how you can reduce your dependence on travel and save carbon emissions whilst still keeping in touch and enjoying your life.”

Steve Taylor, Chair, Winchester Churches Together

Why act?

Trains use far less fossil fuel per passenger mile than cars; they are cheaper and far safer. Yet many of us commute, shop, and visit friends and other places by car. Journeys of more than 10 miles are responsible for more than 60% of carbon emissions from cars. Leisure, holiday, social and shopping journeys make up over half of the emissions from this longer-distance travel. The balance comes from commuting to work, school and education.   

Flying is by far the highest generator of greenhouse gas emissions for each passenger kilometre travelled. Greenhouse gas emissions from flying include all the gases, and water vapour that aircraft emit at high altitude. Flying creates about 6-10 times more GHG emissions than travelling by train or coach. Over 20% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by UK travel and freight transport is due to domestic and international flying by UK residents.

Yet our flying continues to increase. Over the last 20 years, greenhouse gas emissions from UK based international air travel have more than doubled. Flying is truly the elephant in the room.

What I do now

Think about how you travel and see if there are alternvive optsion rather than jumping in the car. First step -  answer these simple questions:

  • How do I get to work / school?
  • Do I drive to Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Basingstoke, or London?
  • Where do I shop?
  • Where is my leisure?
  • How often do I fly?

Actions to cut CO2

The easy steps

  • Shop on-line, and use local shops closer to home
  • Combine the trip with other journeys – or car share with friends or family
  • Replace business travel with Skype, telephone or video-conferencing. Pow-wow-now is a free phone conference facility
  • If you must travel and can’t get there without flying, offset your flight. There are many offsetting schemes; make sure you choose one such as Atmosfair which recognises the full impact of flying and funds projects which genuinely reduce carbon emissions. Read Friends of the Earth’s briefing note


  • Take the train or a coach instead of driving. This creates about a fifth of the carbon of driving on your own.
  • Save money on tickets – see our handout on trains for advice and links.


  • It’s hard when your loved ones are far away. But it’s worth setting up Skype so you can see each other as well as talking. Skype is cheap if you have broadband. It’s easy to get going if your computer has a built-in camera, like many nowadays, or you can buy a camera to attach to the PC.


  • Take your weekend breaks in places you can get to by train – UK or Eurostar – instead of flying. For getting round Europe by train, see our handout.
  • Visit somewhere closer to home for your holiday. Holidays in the UK can be less stressful, as well as better for the environment. There are lots of links to places to go and other advice on avoiding flying.

Suggested goals

Aim to cut 10 per cent off the miles you drive.

Take short holidays/breaks by coach, train or even car instead of flying.

Design a plan which reduces your flying by 50%.

Co2 credit

For every 100 miles you fly you create 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Cut your family flying by 50% and work out how many kilograms of greenhouse gas (equivalent to CO2) you can save each year.

My CO2 credit from cutting my flying is  _______.

Calculate your current CO2 emissions from driving by finding the number of miles you drive annually in the first column. Next move to the appropriate column according to your miles/litre or gallon to find the annual CO2 emissions for your car. Divide this number by 5 to find the CO2 credit from reducing mileage by 20%.

My CO2 credit from cutting my driving is_______.

For example: If you drive 10,000 miles annually and get 10 miles per litre, your annual CO2 output is 2,200 kg. Note 1 gallon is about 4.5 litres. Divide that by 5 to get a savings of 440 kg of CO2 (if you reduce your driving by 20%).


What I will do


Click here to return to full list of Greener Travel Handouts.