No way around it: Rethinking transportation for our planet’s sake

This week, we’ll look at transportation and its significant influence on greenhouse gas emissions. Discover how our commuting choices impact the environment and explore effective strategies to embrace eco-friendly transportation options.

Transportation’s Role in Emissions

Transportation is a central aspect of society, yet it contributes substantially to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Vehicles powered by fossil fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, emit mostly carbon dioxide (98%) and small amounts of methane and nitrous oxide. Beyond GHGs, they release pollutants causing air, soil, and water contamination, leading to 7 million deaths a year from car-related air pollution. Changing the way we get around could be a matter of life and death.

Road infrastructure also impacts GHGs. While we may think more roads make traffic flow better and reduce emissions, the reality is different. Studies show that new or expanded roads attract more drivers, resulting in more traffic and higher emissions. Building roads adds to GHGs, both from the construction work and the carbon-heavy materials like cement. Moreover, cutting down forests and transforming land for road development reduces the carbon sink and adds to the environmental toll.

Did You Know? Cars and trucks are responsible for approximately 17% of global CO2 emissions.

Understanding Your Impact

Individual commuting and travel decisions play an important role in shaping CO2 emissions. Choosing sustainable modes of transportation like biking, walking, or using the bus instead of driving alone can significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with daily travel.

For example, if you decide to take the bus instead of driving alone to campus, you could cut around 2.5 kg of CO2 emissions per day (assuming a 10 km drive at 8L/100km fuel efficiency). Over a full year, that’s a big impact, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and helping reduce the effects of climate change.

Flying for short trips under 2 hours produces 50% more emissions than driving a gasoline-fueled car. Next time, consider driving instead. When you account for the time spent getting to the airport, going through security, and boarding, driving may not take much longer – and you won’t have to deal with flight delays or lost baggage!

Taking Action: Strategies for Eco-Friendly Commutes

As members of the college and institute community, we have the power to transform our transportation habits and reduce emissions. Here are some strategies for embracing eco-friendly commuting practices to help combat climate change and meet our Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. Public Transportation: Use buses, trains, and subways for your daily commute when available. Public transportation generally produces fewer emissions per passenger than individual vehicles. (Goals: 3, 7, 11, 12, and 15)
  2. Carpooling: Share rides with colleagues or friends to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Carpooling is an efficient way to lower emissions and save money. It is especially beneficial if done in an electric car. (Goals: 11 and 12)
  3. Biking and Walking: Choose active transportation modes like biking or walking for shorter distances. Start with an initiative like “Active Wednesdays,” committing to use these modes at least one day a week. These options produce zero emissions and offer health benefits. (Goals: 3, 7, 11, and 15)
  4. Electric Bicycles and Vehicles: Consider an electric bike as a greener transportation option. Electric vehicles are beneficial for reducing greenhouse gases, but they might be costly. E-bikes, on the other hand, have a smaller carbon footprint in their production, transportation, and disposal. They are also more affordable, charge faster, and easier to park. (Goals: 3, 7, 9, 11, and 12)
  5. Advocate for Sustainable Transport: Encourage your campus to provide bike lanes, promote carpooling programs, and invest in electric vehicle and bicycle charging infrastructure. Support efforts to enhance sustainable transportation options on campus, such as bike-sharing programs or shuttle services. (Goals: 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, and 17)
  6. Emission-Conscious Travel Choices: When planning travel, consider the emissions impact. Opt for driving or taking the train over flying for shorter trips and choose sailing trips instead of cruises. Selecting lower-emission alternatives for leisure or business travel can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

By adopting eco-friendly transportation practices, we contribute to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future for all. Let’s pave the way for cleaner air, reduced emissions, and a greener commute.

Get Inspired! Sustainability on our Campuses

Active transportation can reduce your travel GHGs by up to 30 times compared to car or public transportation. Active transportation includes walking, riding your bike or e-bike, skateboarding, snowshoeing, e-scootering, or even skating.

Thompson Rivers University has a zero-emissions transportation goal, which includes a comprehensive cycling and e-bike rental and purchase program and pedestrian trails in addition to EV charging stations, transit passes, and rideshare programs.

Enter the Challenge to Win!

Commit to the challenge and complete the short quiz for your chance to win $350. Complete all six weekly challenges to enter the draw for $1,000.

Eco-Transportation Challenge

Your Challenge: This week, choose to bike, walk, carpool, or take public transit for at least one trip that you would normally drive alone. After completing your eco-friendly trip, take a moment to reflect on its impact. Consider how incorporating sustainable transportation options into your routine could benefit the environment, especially if more people made similar choices.

Discuss with friends and family the collective difference we could make by choosing greener transportation. Identify one sustainable transportation habit you can continue and aim to integrate it into your daily life.