Oil is getting harder to extract and more expensive, and greenhouse gases are causing climate change. No wonder that travel and transport are now in the spotlight, as Winchester’s leading organisations turn their attention to cutting the carbon footprint of our travel.
 
The report of a special workshop of local transport planners, providers and passengers has now been published. Working groups are now drawing up plans for cutting carbon emissions by making more use of low emissions vehicles, encouraging take-up of public transport, helping schools and businesses develop “Travel Plans” for staff and students, and reviewing how to make the city centre more attractive for walking, cycling, and shopping.
 
The workshop benefitted from a recent review of the evidence on greenhouse gas emissions from different types of transport published by Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC). Their report provides information and advice to all those who realize that greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced if we are to avoid the catastrophic impacts of global warming on our planet and its inhabitants.
 
It looks at evidence about different methods of travel and the impact of each. Although the emissions per passenger per kilometre for each type of travel will vary, depending on factors such as the number of passengers, the report shows that it is best to walk or cycle for journeys of a few miles. If that’s not possible, take a bus or fill up your car with other passengers. 
 
One startling finding is that Defra has recently concluded that the carbon emission values provided by car manufacturers are an underestimate (by some 15%) of the actual emissions caused by car travel in the real world. They exclude the use of accessories such as air conditioning, lights and heaters, exclude the weight of luggage and passengers and do not allow for the effects of gradients, flat tyres and poor maintenance. As a result, Defra says that the real range of carbon emissions for cars is between 170-350 gms CO2 per kilometer (km) traveled. The average car with a driver and no passengers emits 250 gms per km - 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide for every 4 kilometers traveled. 
 
The carbon emissions for every kilometer traveled by a passenger on a train, local bus or coach vary dramatically depending on how many passengers there are on the train, bus or coach. If full, the emissions for each passenger for each kilometer traveled is 24 gms on a train, 18 on a local bus and 13 on a coach. 
 
The average emissions per passenger on a typical 75% full intercontinental flight is about 430 gms CO2 per km. Short flights – within the UK - do not generally have the time to gain great height, and so cause less damage in the upper atmosphere due to nitrous oxide emissions and condensation trails than long-distance flights. Shorter flights of 250 miles, say from Southampton to Scotland, emit about 300 gms per km. Because international long-distance flights go thousands of miles, the emissions for each passenger are very large, equivalent to more than the average driver in Winchester uses in a whole year’s driving. 
 
Clearly, travelling by train is much better than driving; and driving is better than flying. Brian Shorter, author of the WinACC report, said “You and your family will always travel at a lower carbon emission value if you choose an existing train, local bus or coach service than if you travel by car.”
 
WinACC has also just revised its “flying cards” which show the effect on your carbon footprint of a wide range of destinations – see http://www.winacc.org.uk/news/2011/04/15/flying-bad-environment-fact-cards
 
 
Note to editors
2. For further information, please contact Chris Holloway, Director, WinACC, 01962 827083 / 07779 283451 email press@winacc.org.uk  
3. Winchester Action on Climate Change was formed in October 2007 to engage every household and every organisation in Winchester district in cutting the carbon footprint of the district by a third by 2015. More at www.winacc.org.uk
4. ‘Carbon footprint’ is used here as shorthand for the total emission of all greenhouse gases.