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The Climate Countdown: Saving Ourselves Through Public Transit

Climate change is one of the most pressing concerns in the world today. To reduce our carbon footprint and help combat global warming, we need to reduce our reliance on cars and invest more in public transport. This brief goes over how and why we should switch to a more sustainable way of living.

The issue

The use of cars in the UK is a major contributor to climate change. The transport sector accounts for almost a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, with road transport contributing around two-thirds of this and in 2020 over half (52%) of domestic emissions can from cars according to GOV.UK.

The UK government has set a target of reducing transport emissions by 57% from 1990 levels by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050. To meet this, a range of measures need to be taken to reduce the impact of cars on climate change.

On paper, the most common solution given is using electric cars. However, Electric cars still create emissions, albeit through a different process. The production and charging of electric cars can still emit greenhouse gases and pollutants, including when electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants. Not to mention the price. The other option which needs to be therefore considered is public transport.

The solution

Public transport is especially effective in those densely populated cities and towns as these places tend to have more traffic and thus more air pollution. Public transportation can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing a low-carbon alternative to driving. By replacing single-occupancy vehicle trips with public transportation, emissions from transportation can be reduced.

However, with this comes pollution as these vehicles still will emit carbon dioxide into our atmosphere although it is less impactful than domestic cars so let us take it one step further. Buses represented the greatest number of all public transport journeys in Great Britain in 2014/15, accounting for 62% of the distance travelled which would be a great place to start when talking about sustainability according to the Office of National Statistics.

The future

The 2 main zero emission bus technologies in the UK are battery electric buses and hydrogen fuel cell buses.

The electrifying potential of hydrogen buses is undeniable - they offer the opportunity to decarbonise transport dramatically. Local authorities should seize this opportunity, prioritising the use of 'green' hydrogen, produced from renewable electricity, to power their hydrogen buses. These buses will be a small but significant step towards a greener future, significantly reducing air and sound pollution in densely populated areas like London. Though more expensive and complex than diesel buses, investing in hydrogen buses could be a smart move in the long run.

What is the incentive?

It will be a challenge to get people to switch to these other forms of transport - why would someone want to take public transport when they can have the convenience, comfort and luxury of their own vehicle? We must find a way to incentivise them. old methods include offering discounts on tickets for restaurants such as Mcdonald's does not tackle the issue effectively and does not promote healthy living. Instead, we could introduce loyalty schemes, where people can buy tickets to accumulate points, which can then be redeemed for vouchers and other discounts.


Climate change is an urgent issue that must be addressed. To reduce our carbon footprint and help combat global warming, we need to switch to a more sustainable way of living. This means reducing our reliance on cars and investing more in public transport. Public transport offers a low-carbon alternative to driving, with the added benefit of reducing air and sound pollution in densely populated areas. To make this switch easier, we should introduce loyalty schemes with rewards for using public transport. This will incentivise people to use public transport more often and help us to create a greener future.


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