One of the biggest ongoing problems that growing cities today are facing is car ownership. First, the number of cars in urban traffic cannot continue to grow at the same rate as human inhabitants because otherwise, we will reach a saturation point where people and cars will no longer be able to coexist in modern cities, as there will simply not be enough space. Secondly when we think about healthy sustainable living environments in cities, then we should also consider that cars are a significant emitter of greenhouse gases, and in a bid to preserve nature and the living environment, we should all look to reduce car usage.
We of course understand that in the real world it is neither possible nor completely necessary to give up cars altogether, rather the goal should be towards changing habits and adopting ways that significantly reduce overall car usage. For example, the Institute for Sensible Transport estimates that everyone can dramatically reduce their CO2 emissions by using public transport 41 percent of the time, walking 34 percent of the time, 13 percent by bicycle, and 11 percent by car.
Cars are the biggest polluters
When talking about polluting in general, then sectors such as energy, industry, and agriculture have gradually decreased their emissions, while transport is, unfortunately, showing a steady trend upwards. According to the European Environment Agency, the transport sector is responsible for almost 30% of all CO2 emissions in the European Union. Motorized vehicles (personal cars, motorcycles, trucks) account for 72% of it.
Keeping the interests of environmental well-being in mind, the European Union has set a goal to reduce CO2 emissions by a minimum of 60% by 2050. As passenger cars are the biggest polluters in the transport sector, accounting for as much as 60% of total transport emissions, then we should also consider reducing the use of passenger cars. One solution and a more sustainable way for managing inner-city urban traffic and CO2 emissions output is through greater utilization of public transport – buses, trams, trains, etc.
Different means of transport can greatly affect the environment in various degrees. For example, an airplane consumes an average of 285 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometre, while a train consumes only 14 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometre. Whereas buses consume an average of 68 g CO2 / km per passenger, while a medium-sized car consumes 158 g CO2 / km.
It is also important to note that on average only 1-2 people travel by car at any one time, and that a typical bus or tram can accommodate significantly more people. If we would compare those that travel by car against a larger number of people who travel to their destinations simultaneously using public transport, then we would see much lower energy consumption and CO2 output overall. The opposite is also true if these people move in the same direction individually using a private car, as the emissions output and energy usage will be significantly higher.
According to experts, using public transport over private cars can significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. The average car emits 6-9 tons of CO2 in one year. In contrast one person using public transport emits on average 2.4 tonnes less CO2.