Increased traffic numbers causing slowdown in carbon dioxide reduction rate

Efforts to cut carbon dioxide levels in the Chesterfield district have been hampered by a failure to reduce transport emissions over five years.

Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 10:38 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 10:43 am

The latest data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has revealed that carbon dioxide emissions from freight and passenger transport rose by 0.8 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

That means traffic was responsible for 33.5 per cent of the total amount carbon dioxide released in the area between 2011 and 2016.

Overall, emissions from transport, both private and for business purposes, increased by 3.5 per cent in the UK over the period.

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More traffic on the road has meant more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Photo: Rachel Atkins

The heatwave that has hit the UK over the summer has raised awareness about the growing risks of climate change.

Scientists believe that future heatwaves will be more frequent and hotter due to carbon dioxide emissions.

Total overall carbon dioxide missions from all sources fell by 16.7 per cent over the five years in Chesterfield.

The area was responsible for releasing 0.47 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2016 - down from 0.56 million tonnes five years earlier.

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at the World Wildlife Fund UK, put the increase in emissions from transport down to the greater number of large cars on British roads.

He said: “We’re aping the American market and more drivers are switching to unnecessarily large vehicles with greater carbon emissions. Bigger vehicles tend to be less efficient on fuel use.

Jason Torrance, a transport expert at UK100, a network of local governments committed to promoting clean energy, called on the Government to take urgent action to tackle transport emissions.

He said: “It is expected that the Government will want to give local authorities more powers to tackle air pollution in the environment legislation next year.

“But without significant shifts on things like electrification of railway lines, cleaner buses and taxis, plus a shift away from car dependency by designing our cities better, this trend will only get worse.

“There is £78.5 billion of planned Government spend on transport infrastructure in England to essentially increase road capacity.

“That will worsen the problem rather than decarbonising or tackling air pollution.”

In Chesterfield, households produced 39.3 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the area, lower than five years earlier.

In 2016, industrial and commercial activities produced 27.2 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the area.

The department put the decreased emissions from the domestic sector down to lower coal consumption.

Phil MacDonald, analyst for the climate change policy think tank Sandbag, said the UK ‘has made some progress on energy efficiency’, particularly through the quick uptake of LED lightning.

He added: “Compared to the continent, our housing stock is coming from a low base.

“There’s a lot more to be done in reducing domestic emissions, and much of it, like loft insulation or cavity wall insulation, pays back in reduced energy bills almost immediately.”