Sustainable Transport often refers to the broad subject of transport that is sustainable in the senses of social, environmental and climate impacts. Components for evaluating sustainability include the particular vehicles used for road, rail, air and on-water transport; the source of energy; and the infrastructure used to accommodate the various transport options.
Transport operations and logistics as well as transit-oriented development are also involved in evaluation. Transportation sustainability is largely being measured by transportation system effectiveness and efficiency as well as the environmental and climate impacts of the system.
Short-term activity often promotes incremental improvement in fuel efficiency and vehicle emissions controls while long-term goals include migrating transportation from fossil-based energy to other alternatives such as renewable energy and use of other renewable resources. The entire life cycle of transport systems is subject to sustainability measurement and optimization.
Sustainable transport systems make a positive contribution to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the communities they serve. Transport systems exist to provide social and economic connections, and people quickly take up the opportunities offered by increased mobility, with poor households benefiting greatly from low carbon transport options. The advantages of increased mobility need to be weighed against the environmental, social and economic costs that transport systems pose.
Transport systems have significant impacts on the environment, accounting for between 20% and 25% of world energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. The majority of the emissions, almost 97%, came from direct burning of fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions from transport are increasing at a faster rate than any other energy using sector. Road transport is also a major contributor to local air pollution and smog.
How can we become more sustainable about transport?
We should all think about how and why we use the travel options or modes of transport which we do. Thinking about how and why we make travel choices for all the trips we make is a starting point for making changes to the environment, improving climate change and maintaining sustainable transport.
How we travel and what modes of transport we use can have an impact on our travel decisions and on ourselves.
Driving short distances to the local shops or schools could be replaced with walking or cycling. Why? It’s healthier for the person, the environment and reduces congestion and carbon emissions.
Do we need to drive to the local shop to pick up the paper or could we walk? Do we need to drive to work or could we cycle? If we have to drive the kids to school could we car share with other parents in our neighbourhood? Do we need a lift to the airport or could we get a bus?
We all know that walking and cycling are better for our health than driving and that getting public transport cuts congestion and is better for the environment.