Jenny has posted her response below to the most recent meeting in our ‘CC’ series. During the series we have been digging into understanding our own ‘carbon footprint’ and what it means to us in real life. The UK average carbon footprint per person per year now is c12 tonnes of C02 emissions. There’s a challenging and more sustainable goal of four tonnes of CO2 emissions per person per year (= emissions from home energy, travel, food purchasing and general consumption, at roughly a tonne each).
“I offered to write a post on this, because when I did my carbon footprint, I realised that travel and transport form a significant portion of my annual carbon footprint, so it’s an area I want to improve on.
In this session, we shared what was important to us – peaceful, safe streets, short journeys to work, lower speed limits and safer cycling.
We imagined what it would be like if people didn’t own cars anymore and there was a cycle super highway like the one Norman Foster has proposed. We didn’t all agree on these more extreme re-imaginings of how we travel, but we all agreed that shorter local journeys on peaceful streets would be a good thing.
While looking at the pros and cons of different types of transport, there was a lot of debate and focus on cycling. Most people in the group own cycles and had cycled to the meeting. It’s a quick and easy way to get around Tooting, but all agreed cycling in the centre of London was not such a pleasant experience.
Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to be aggressive cycling in the city just to claim your piece of road? Would more people cycle if London was more like Amsterdam? What if the state gave you a free bike if you promised to use it more than three times a week, like in Sweden?
We played a game, imagining we were a family of four making travel choices based on lifestyle, and on government policy.
What soon became clear was that low carbon choices aren’t always made with the sole intention of doing good for the planet. More often, travel choices were made based on money or time saved – money and time that could then be spent as a family. Policy rarely influenced decisions in our game and sometimes, that was surprising.
In the future, we may have to reduce to 1 tonne of CO2 per year per person for travel. Here’s my challenge: can I get to 1 tonne?
I started my own travel diary and estimated my day trips & holidays.
Here’s how my annual carbon footprint stacks up now in 2014:
Commuting and local travel around London: 6,396 miles per year = 0.9 tonnes of CO2
Day /weekend trips out of London, and holiday travel: 1640 miles = 0.3 tonnes of CO2
2 return short-haul plane trips to Europe: 4 tonnes of CO2
In total, that puts my travel emissions at just over 5 tonnes per year.
Is it time to cut the trips abroad or can I save enough by getting a job locally to afford me one flight a year?
One tonne is certainly going to be a challenge!
I’ll post a follow up on this, and from the other participants in the group”
Thanks for these honest comments, Jenny!
We’ll report back from the two remaining Carbon Conversations meetings in this series.
If you would like to get into this fascinating and urgent topic, do join us in the future when we next offer ‘CC’ locally. All welcome: you do not need to be an expert, just interested in exploring your own choices, and in taking some action.