One of the challenges that Canada faces in reducing our emissions is the sheer size of our country, how far apart our major cities can be, and the fact that some of our fellow Canadians are very spread out in rural areas. Transportation in Canada actually accounts for approximately 25% of our emissions, and of that approximately half is directly related to passenger transportation! A huge share of our emissions is from just people getting around! Fortunately, many of us have the ability to directly lower these numbers by the choices we make daily. This is why the challenge for June will be all about finding ways to get around in environmentally friendly ways.
There are many ways to reduce your transportation footprint, even if you live in a rural area with limited access to public transportation!
- Walk - This is pretty self explanatory, if your destination is within walking distance why not walk instead of drive?
- Bike - This is a great option for traveling distances of 20km or less, the travel times within cities are similar (or better with gridlock traffic) to driving, and it's also a great source of extra exercise!
- Public Transit - whether it is a bus or a train, public transit will always have a lower carbon footprint than driving an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car.
- Carpooling/ridesharing - while it is not as effective at reducing emissions as public transit it is still a great step in the right direction. Rather than having 5 people driving 5 cars to work everyday, those 5 people could be in the same car - a ~80% reduction in emissions!
- Electric Vehicles - if it is within your means to buy an electric vehicle with your next vehicle purchase you should! In Canada there are several incentives to help you afford it. Even though their production and their use still has a carbon footprint, it is far less than an ICE vehicle, and will continue to improve as technology improves and power production becomes greener.
- Eco Driving - If all of the options listed above are out of reach, or impractical for you, you can still have a huge impact by just changing your driving habits. Practicing these driving habits and combining them with regular vehicle maintenance - like keeping your oil change schedule, or making sure your tires are filled to the proper level - can significantly reduce your emissions, prolong the life of your vehicle, and save you money!
One of the great things about lowering your transportation carbon footprint are the secondary benefits that come with it.
- For options that include moving under your own power comes the benefit of also getting in some extra exercise! The benefits of exercise are too many to list here, but as POW members you are probably very familiar with them! A few worth mentioning are increased energy, improved health, stress reduction, and increased longevity.
- Those that use public transit exchange the sometimes stressful time spent driving in traffic with extra personal time to read, listen to music, take care of emails, or simply get in some shuteye. If you do carpooling or ridesharing, when you are not the designated driver, this extra time also applies to you!
- The more people use public transit, or purchase and drive electric vehicles, the more the infrastructure will expand and improve. This will make the systems for either more efficient and accessible for Canadians down the road.
- In almost all cases a financial savings can be found. Reducing the amount of time spent driving your own car directly reduces maintenance and fuel costs. Changing how you drive improves fuel efficiency and reduces maintenance costs. Not only are they cheaper to drive, electric vehicles are also simpler in mechanical terms, and as technology continues to improve, maintenance costs will continue to drop.
The methods for reducing your transportation footprint are not limited to what is listed here, nor are the benefits alternatives provide. Changing how we get around will remain a significant method for reducing our carbon footprint for decades to come!