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The Effect of Global Transport on Climate Change

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Global Transport & Climate Change

Global Transport unsurprisingly is a prominent contributor to global emissions and pollution. The majority consists of the movement of cars and light-duty trucks, and the remaining from trains, ships, airplanes among other vehicles. The majority of greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions are the result of the combustion of petroleum based products.

If we take air travel alone, there are now more than 100,000 flights per day globally and according to the Air Transport Action Group flights accounted for producing 770 million tonnes of CO2 in 2015. That figure only scratches the surface of the emissions produced by jets, road vehicles and shipping combined.

infographSource: Trucklocator

Climate Change

Few scientists would now try to deny that our planet is warming and a big contributor to climate change is greenhouse gases, such as carbon and nitrous oxide and methane. The Center for Biological Diversity states that around 15% of manmade carbon dioxide can be attributed to global transportation, and it is recognized that in the last two decades transportation emissions increased by 45%. More worryingly this shows no sign of slowing down.

A clear sign of global warming on our environment is the melting of the polar ice caps and in May 2016 the arctic ice fell to a record low, 580,000 square kilometres below the previous May record which was set in 2004. Antarctica has seen the collapse of large sections of the Larsen B ice shelf and it is estimated the shelf will totally disintegrate by the end of the decade.

Reducing Emissions

It is imperative we reduce emissions and therefore major changes need to be made to how we travel. Electric and hybrid vehicles are increasing in popularity, however a recharging-point network needs to be put in place before their use is mainstream; and implementation of this has been slow.

The weight of aeroplanes is also an issue, as the heavier the plane the more fuel it uses. Commercial aircraft companies have been experimenting with carbon-fibre and the A350 XWB Airbus has just been introduced to the Qatar Airways fleet. With over half of the frame made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic this plane will use substantially less fuel on every flight.

There is still a long way to go however, and it will take the concerted effort of both companies and governments around the world to ensure we make changes. Only time will tell whether these changes will be in time to reverse the damage we have already done to our environment.

This article is written by Joe Thomas, a Green Industry enthusiast. For more details please contact him on



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