Traveling by train can lower your carbon footprint

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The COP26 Climate Summit is currently in Glasgow. Big UK firms and financial institutions are outlining how they will lower their carbon emissions over the next few decades. In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to set a target of net-zero by 2050. The amount of carbon emitted will be balanced by the carbon removed from the air through trees and new technology.

The Climate Emergency is a hot topic right now, and we all need to do our part. You could start by making smaller changes to your diet, lifestyle, and transportation of choice.

Travel by train

Transport accounts for one-fifth of global carbon dioxide emissions and a huge part of your individual carbon footprint. Walking and cycling is the best option for short distances. You can lower local air pollution and improve your health. However, these options are not practical for longer distances.

Travelling by train is a lower-carbon option for moderate to long distances. You can cut your emissions by almost 80% by taking the train instead of the car for moderate distances. Using a bike instead of a car for short distances can reduce your emissions by a whopping 75%.

Let’s look at the numbers

If you drive from Edinburgh to London, you will emit almost 100 kilograms C02eq. If you were to fly, you would increase your emissions by almost a third. If you took the train, your emissions would be 80% lower. The train is a brilliant way to travel across the UK and to Europe. You can catch a train to York, instead of driving the distance alone.

Carbon-intensive options

Cars produce a huge amount of carbon dioxide and ramp up local air pollution. You could start car-sharing to reduce your carbon footprint and local congestion issues. In fact, driving alone over a distance of 1000 kilometres can be worse than catching a flight (carbon-wise). For moderate distances, a medium-sized car produces fewer carbon emissions than a domestic flight. If you need to fly internationally, economy class can help to lower your footprint. 

What about electric options?

Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. If your electricity comes from a nuclear or renewable source, electric vehicles are even more efficient than rail. There are also electric rail options these days. When you are booking your train online, some providers allow you to see how much carbon your journey will emit. You can omit eco-friendlier journeys to keep your footprint low.

It’s time to be more eco-conscious with your travel preferences. While a flight is quick and convenient, it might not be the most environmentally friendly option. Look at your carbon emissions when deciding whether to travel by plane, rail or car.

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