EcoUrbia Network

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about transportation

by Mel Phadtare

At 36% of BC’s GHG footprint, transportation comprises the highest contributor of carbon emissions compared to any other sector. 24,231 tonnes CO2e is delivered to our atmosphere from heavy and light duty trucks, planes, helicopters, cars, motorcycles and rail. The IPCC has forecast road transportation to increase global temperatures of between 0.13°C and 0.18°C by 2050. All in an effort to move people, goods, food, and the waste we generate.

The bigger picture of transport goes well beyond the vehicles themselves and what they haul. It also includes enormous amounts of infrastructure required to support the system on an on-going basis, in addition to social, economic and environmental costs. These can be both good and bad – for example, jobs are created, so too are human health issues such as respiratory issues. Extraction for road, track and vehicle resources provide huge revenues, but also results in enormous waste and thousands of accidents/loss of life each year. Socialization is created by allowing people to convene across long distances – but so too is social isolation when urban sprawl occurs and people are without vehicles or not able-bodied. Without debate, the price of fuel is volatile and our dependence on unsustainable transit options is winding up, largely because of this.

Cities are today being designed through a low carbon, people friendly-lens. Pedestrianizing hubs, self-propelled (walking/cycling), car-pooling, renewable energy and electric transportation, Travel Smart clubs, congestion charges, trip planning, load-carrying capacity, densification and the greening of urban centres. All of this allows for citizens to reclaim the streets to some extent, while across the country rail and renewable energies are increasingly on the radar.

We each have the ability to impact available transport every day through our choice of how we get to A from B, by what we purchase in terms of travel miles, and by how we vote. With an additional 50,000 people arriving in the Lower Mainland each year, the opportunity to shift gears towards low impact transit is here.

Sources: BC’s Climate Action Plan, Ministry of Environment
Cars, Copenhagen and Climate Change, Center for Sustainable Transportation
Dense City, North Shore News, August 8, 2010

did you know

  • Cars generate 24 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions; a move to electric cars would be like going from oil to coal, a reduction of only about 15 percent
  • If we shared rides we could cut CO2 emissions 80 percent – practically overnight – by simply changing our lifestyle
  • About 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation are from cars and trucks and 2/3 are generated within urban areas; as urban areas extend outward, the more GHG emissions grow, making it difficult for Canada to meet its Kyoto pledge
  • Building and maintaining roads costs 3-6 times more than public transit.
  • Sprawl’s dominant reliance on cars strains Canada’s energy supply, and adds to pressures to find new supplies.

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"We’ve had cities for 5,000 years and cars for about 80... people previously owned the streets. A protected bicycle path is a symbol that a citizen on a $30 bicycle, is equally important as one in a $30,000 car."(Enrique Penalosa, former Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia and ‘father’ of Ciclovia and rapid bus transit)

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transport topics

-biofuel (also food/transport)
-electric cars
-population (also climate change)
-greenhouse gases (also climate change)
-peak oil (also climate change)
-planes, trains & automobiles
-pollution (also climate change)
-rapid transit
-urban sprawl (also climate change)



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