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Blog Post 8 July 2021 Updated 26 September 2023

Low carbon transport: what are the options?

From online shopping deliveries to the office commute, transport is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in the UK. In 2019, transport accounted for 34% of the UK’s total carbon emissions.

It’s an area that will need to change considerably if we’re going to reach our target of net zero emissions by 2050. The decision to ban new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 will help reduce emissions from the sector, but there are plenty of ways to get around that don’t produce carbon emissions.

From cycling and walking to shared travel options and electric vehicles, we’ve got everything you need to know about the best low carbon travel modes to get from A to B.

Get active

Active travel is all about getting around in ways that don’t use fossil fuels. Whether it’s wheeling, walking, scooting or cycling, active travel not only improves your health and wellbeing, but helps reduce your carbon footprint and saves you money.

Choosing to walk or cycle just one mile to the shop and back once a week instead of taking the car will see fuel savings of £16 and 27kg in carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. This is the equivalent of charging your smart phone 3,443 times.

Two people cycling ebikes in the countryside

Make it easy with an ebike

Thanks to ebikes, cycling longer distances doesn’t have to be exhausting. If you need to travel further than you’re comfortable with on two wheels, an ebike could be a great solution to get around, while still reaping the health benefits and doing your bit to improve air quality.

Electric bikes not only make cycling accessible to people who might otherwise find it difficult, such as the elderly and those with health problems including asthma and muscle soreness, but they also make the journey a lot quicker.

Share your next journey

Shared transport options, such as using public transport, car sharing or bike hire schemes, offer a low carbon method of travel.

Did you know that replacing car journeys with public transport can reduce your CO2 emissions by 42% if using the bus and 73% if using the train? It can also help you be more active by walking between your stop and destination.

Improve your driving style

If you can’t replace all your journeys with walking or cycling, you can improve your driving style through ecodriving. You could save on fuel, reduce carbon emissions, and improve air quality by following our driving tips and thinking about your vehicle choice.

Our top driving tips include:

  • Assess the road ahead of you to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration.
  • Shift up early to a higher gear, as driving at lower revs reduces fuel consumption.
  • Switch off your engine when stationary in neutral, for example if you’re waiting at traffic lights.
  • Open the window instead of using the air conditioning – the latter can increase your fuel consumption by as much as 5%.
  • Remove roof racks, boxes and bike racks when you’re not using them as they can increase drag, using more fuel.

Choose a car club

Car clubs offer instant access to cars in your local area without the hassle of owning a car. They’re a great solution if you don’t drive very often, but still want access to a car for occasions when you need one. With newer models available, they emit around 43% less carbon dioxide.

They can also help you be more active, as you walk from your destination to the car club; they are convenient and simple to use; and with no maintenance costs, road tax or insurance, they can be cheaper than a private car.

Join the electric revolution

Electric vehicles will have an important part to play in reducing emissions from transport and helping the UK reach its net zero targets. Battery electric vehicles are 100% electric vehicles that don’t produce any tailpipe emissions.

The lower or zero emissions of battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles means they will attract lower (or zero) charges from clean air zones and low emission zones being implemented around the UK, as well as London’s ultra low emission zone.

Find out more about the benefits of electric vehicles, including financial support available to help you make the switch.

Last updated: 26 September 2023