Swansea, UK — In the past ten years, the UK's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions has been transportation, according to the ONS data. How does it affect UK families?
According to the Environmental Accounts of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), households emit more GHG per resident than any other industry sector. Based on residency, they represent 26% of all emissions in the UK. In line with this, transportation accounts for 43% of household emissions. Household GHG emissions may change due to changes in available modes of transportation.
Although household travel-related emissions have risen since the middle of the 1990s, they first fell below 1990 levels in 2020. There was a 23% decline between 2019 and 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. On the other hand, over time, emissions from non-travel sources have been decreasing.
Understanding the Journey Emission Comparisons
Direct emissions. These are emissions that the car itself produces.
Indirect emissions. These are emissions that are brought on by the processes of extracting, processing, and transporting the fuel that powers the vehicle. It includes the creation and transmission of electricity for electric vehicles.
Indirect effects. These are intricate effects brought about by greenhouse gases interacting with the atmosphere, such as the contrails that aeroplanes create in the air that reflect sunlight.
Cars: Greatest Emitter of GHG
According to the most recent transport statistics for Great Britain, driving is still the most common mode of transportation.
By packing as many people into each vehicle as possible, you can lower emissions per person because, according to statistical estimates, cars emit more GHGs per passenger mile than trains and coaches that carry more people.
For a hypothetical trip between London and Glasgow, the average gasoline vehicle emits more than four times as much carbon dioxide per passenger as a coach or 3.2 times as much as an electric vehicle (taking into account emissions from electricity generation and distribution).
Many passenger flights can produce more GHG emissions than car trips because they require transportation to and from the airport, emit very high levels of GHGs, and may have additional uncertain climate effects (such as the reflection of sunlight on contrails).
However, in the Leeds to Belfast example, car trips must travel further to the ferry terminal, resulting in GHG emissions from cars comparable to those from the more direct plane trip. More direct routes can reduce emissions more effectively, which is another reason the example train trips have lower overall emissions.
State of Climate Change in the UK
According to long-term trends, the UK's annual mean temperature has risen since records began in 1884. Compared to the 30 years (1961 to 1990), the average temperature from 1991 to 2020 was 0.8°C warmer.
The last 20 years have seen the three warmest years on record, with 2014 topping the list and 2006 and 2020. A 9.3°C annual mean temperature in 2021 was 1.0°C higher than the long-term average from 1961 to 1990 and 0.1°C higher than the average from 1991 to 2020.
Long-term trends also indicate that the average amount of rainfall in the UK is rising. There are, however, yearly variations. For example, while 2018 and 2021 saw lower-than-average rain, 2020 was the fourth wettest year. The UK Climate Change Statistics Portal's Climate and Weather section contains information and more data.
The UK is experiencing an increase in extreme weather events. Compared to the previous 30-year average, the average number of days per year with a maximum temperature above 25°C and the average number of days with rainfall exceeding the 99th percentile of daily rainfall increased from 1991 to 2020. (by 53% and 22%, respectively).
According to the Met Office, 2022 has started warmer and drier than usual. The following differences from the seasonal averages for UK temperature and rainfall from 1991 to 2020 are shown by the summer seasonal assessment for June and July 2022, the spring seasonal assessment for March to May 2022, and the winter seasonal assessment for December 2021 to February 2022:
- Summer (so far) was 0.9°C warmer than average and had 34% less rainfall.
- Spring was 0.8°C above average with 24% less rainfall
- Winter had 1.1°C above average and 7% less rain than usual.
The UK experienced a heatwave in many areas last July 2022. The Met Office issued its first "red heat alert" for many of the central UK.
During this time, temperatures in England, Scotland, and Wales reached record highs: 40.3°C in Lincolnshire, 34.8°C in the Scottish Borders, and 37.1°C in Flintshire.
Additionally, the nighttime temperatures in all three countries were at their highest: 21.3°C in East Lothian, 24.5°C in Ceredigion, and 25.9°C in Yorkshire.
Impacts of Climate Change & GHG on Families in the UK
Climate change effects include direct (on homes, neighbourhoods, and individual wellbeing) and indirect (on adopting net zero strategies or adaptations) weather-related effects such as heatwaves, flooding, and extreme weather events.
According to the Met Office's unprecedented extreme heatwave, July 2022 report, the heatwave that hit the UK in July 2022 broke temperature records and resulted in severe wildfires.
Fire departments in London, Leicestershire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire declared significant incidents. Due to infrastructure damage, there were also public services and electricity interruptions, which led to power outages and the cancellation of trains and flights.
Flooding remains a primary concern for many households despite recent heat waves and dry weather, and data on flooding are widely available. An increase in intense rainfall has led to the flooding of rivers and other bodies of surface water.
According to the Met Office's State of UK Climate report, the average sea level around the UK has risen by 1.5 mm annually since 1901, excluding the impact of natural vertical land movement, for a total increase of 16.5 centimetres during that time.
What Do People Think?
Despite these effects on people, a third of adults (34%) who have not altered their lifestyle to combat climate change believe that major polluters should make changes first.
According to a recent Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, less than a fifth (19%) of people in Great Britain were thinking about increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. The most frequent excuse given by those who were not considering making any improvements was that they felt their home was already efficient enough (35%), followed by not owning their own home (29%) and changes costing too much money (2%).
New data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (20–31 July 2022) reveals that 77% of adults have made some or a lot of changes to their lifestyle to help combat climate change, in addition to making their homes more energy efficient.
Approximately 7 in 10 (72%) women, compared to 6 in 10 (62%) men, said they had altered their lifestyle in some way to combat climate change. The most prevalent explanations for this were given by the 23% of respondents who claimed they had not altered their lifestyle to combat climate change:
- the idea that major polluters should change before people (34%)
- feeling that their efforts will be in vain (32%)
- it would be too expensive to change (30%)
Low-Emission Cars & Vehicles Can Combat GHG
Since households are the biggest emitter of GHG, individual efforts will pose big changes to the GHG emission problem. Here are some examples:
The number of licensed zero-emission vehicles, ultra-low emission vehicles, and plug-in vehicles increased by 71% last year in the UK (Q1 (Jan-Mar) 2022 compared with Q1 2021). It is due to consumers choosing modern and environmentally friendly vehicles.
How Can EELO Help Through Electric Bikes?
A study says that in England, electric bikes have the potential to cut CO2 emissions from cars by 24.4 million tonnes annually. Rural areas have the most significant capacity to reduce carbon emissions. The study also notes that 3400 census zones are economically vulnerable to car dependence and have a high ability to replace car travel with e-bikes.
In contrast to the previous five years, motor traffic decreased by about a fifth. Cycling increased by more than half, from 3.30 billion miles annually on average to 5.03 billion miles in 2020, according to statistics provided by Cycling UK.
Although cycling is slowly becoming famous in the UK, the data shows that cycling to work is not that popular in the UK.
Commuting trips (proportion by cycle):
- 4% (usually)
- 5% (2020)
People who usually travel to their workplace by cycle:
- 2% (2019/20)
Employed adults who usually cycle to work:
- 3% (2019)
- 2% (2020)
Workers who cycle-commute:
- 1% (2017/19)
With the rise of electric bikes like eelo folding electric bikes, people in the UK can now be encouraged to cycle to work. For example, the people who choose not to cycle are the people who think they are unfit to cycle manually. With the help of an electric bike, this will no longer be an issue.
In addition to having a very fashionable appearance, e-bikes can eventually save you money. Electric bikes are more affordable and environmentally friendly than other modes of transportation for daily commuting.
They use an electric motor powered by a battery instead of conventional cycles. They have more power as a result than regular bikes, which makes them better for commuting. You stand to save a lot of money compared to cars powered by gasoline and diesel.
Filling a tank up is much more expensive than powering an electric cycle. E-bikes are more economical to operate even when compared to electric cars because they use less electricity.