Transport is usually assumed to be about 20% of all emissions so it’s clearly a big problem for climate change but equally for costs as fuel prices rise. Of course the most important issue in terms of transport-related carbon emissions is flying. Whatever Richard Branson says in his marketing, there is no low carbon technological solution on the horizon for jet aircraft. Indeed if current trends continue, then aviation will be responsible for more than 100% of the UK government’s carbon emissions target by 2050. But it’s worse than that – the problem of carbon dioxide emissions is greatly increased by water vapour trails from jet aircraft. These are estimated to make the greenhouse effect of aeroplanes 2.7 times higher than their carbon emissions alone would suggest.
We can not and are not trying to prevent people from flying but we do need to engage on what it means for carbon emissions. Many organisations are looking at carbon offsets as a way to deal with their emissions from flying. Some local authorities in the UK have set up Carbon Offset Funds to give organisations and residents the opportunity to offset the carbon emitted by the flights they take. The council would then use the money to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by investing in local energy efficiency and renewable energy generation projects.
One of the key goal for all organisations should be to cut down on car use by giving incentives for employees to use public transport or bicycles. Another area that should be of interest for fleet managers is biomethane, a vehicle fuel made from food waste, landfill gas, animal slurries or sewage. Biomethane is great news because it produces almost no carbon or noxious emissions. And because it comes from waste it does not displace crops.