- Free Consultations / No Fees Until We Win
- (213) 927-3700
Personal Injury Firm
Globally, only one in 50 new cars were fully electric in 2020. And even if all new cars were electric now, it would still take from 15 to 20 years to replace the world’s fossil fuel car fleet. The emission savings from replacing all those internal combustion engines with zero-carbon alternatives will reportedly not feed in fast enough to make the necessary difference in the next five years.
Tackling the climate and air pollution crisis requires curbing all motorised transport — not solely focusing on electric vehicles. This approach is actually slowing down the race to zero emissions, according to The Conversation.
As the publication notes, this is in part due to electric cars not being truly zero-carbon. After all, mining the raw materials for their batteries, manufacturing them, and generating the electricity they run on all produce emissions. Transport is one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonise, given its heavy fossil fuel use and reliance on carbon-intensive infrastructure like roads, airports, and the vehicles themselves. Not to mention how these all embed themselves in car-dependent lifestyles.
But as The Conversation proposes, one key way to reduce transport emissions relatively quickly on a potentially global scale is to swap cars for bicycles, e-biking, and walking. Active travel is cheaper, healthier, better for the environment, and no slower on congested urban streets.
On how much carbon can it save on a daily basis and what is its role in reducing emissions from transport overall, new research showed that people who walk or cycle have lower carbon footprints from daily travel. And though some walking and cycling happen on top of motorised journeys instead of replacing them altogether, more people switching to active travel would equate to lower carbon emissions from transport on a daily and trip-by-trip basis.
The research was conducted in London, Antwerp, Barcelona, Vienna, Orebro, Rome, and Zurich. And in a span of two years of observance, where the researchers tracked 10,000 travel diary entries by the participants, who recorded all the trips they made each day and by which mode, they calculated their carbon footprint for each trip.
What they found was that people who cycled on a daily basis had 84% lower carbon emissions from all their daily travel than those who didn’t. Also revealed, the average person who shifted from car to bike for just one day a week cut their carbon footprint by seven pounds of CO₂ – equivalent to the emissions from driving a car for 6.2 miles. Moreover, when the researchers compared the life cycle of each travel mode, taking into account the carbon generated by making the vehicle, fuelling it, and disposing of it, they found that emissions from cycling can be more than 30 times lower for each trip than driving a fossil fuel car, and about 10 times lower than driving an electric one.
While 2020 saw a COVID-induced drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), it wasn’t enough to unseat transportation as the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Even under the most ambitious EV adoption scenarios, we must still reduce driving. Per an analysis done by the Rocky Mountain Institute, the U.S. transportation sector needs to reduce carbon emissions 43% by 2030 in order to align with 1.5oC climate goals, which require that we put 70 million EVs on the road and reduce per-capita VMT by 20% in the next nine years.