Demystifying decarbonisation – will 2022 be the year?

Written by Graeme, Karshare's Mobility and Partnerships Director:

Despite the efforts of so many to take action in the battle to reduce global emissions, the hard facts are that 2021 has passed and 2030 is another year closer. Climate change brakes are simply not being applied hard enough. 

2021 was a great year for climate change bingo - COP26, Net Zero, decarbonisation – however, beneath the acronyms, the frameworks and the strategies there needs to be actions that we can all understand. Is it clear what people must do to play their part in addressing climate action? How does the government, at national and local level, engage and support?

So, will 2022 be just another year, or a year like no other?

In my role and conversations with stakeholders, partners, and customers, I’m seeing organisations at all levels making plans to better engage communities on mobility topics. And yet the messages being prepared can be complicated to digest and those involved in the movement of people and goods are still not as integrated as they need to be.

There is no silver bullet - climate change will be tackled by the sum of a range of initiatives that in themselves are dependent on behaviour change. And behaviour cannot be changed unless the facts to support change are crystal clear. 

This starts with all involved in the mobility sector aligning entirely on the transport need – we must reduce our car dependency. A commonly stated goal in the UK is that to reduce transport emissions to the levels needed to meet 2030 decarbonisation targets, car use needs to be reduced by a third.

This sounds challenging, but (with a little bit of rounding) I’ve put together five transport facts that really highlight the issue and the opportunity:

  1. Cars on average are used only an hour a day
  2. A third of all vehicles don’t move in a day
  3. One in ten vehicles don’t move in a week
  4. Short journeys (less than 5 miles) comprise two thirds of all car trips
  5. Short journeys account for a fifth of all miles drive

(Source: Creds)

Cutting down our short journeys is the obvious step to take  – encouraging people to replace these journeys with a combination of active travel and public transport where possible is a must. 

Already in 2022 there appears to be some fresh thinking in the approach to engagement. The new government body, Active Travel England (ATE), is responsible for taking forward the active travel vision documented 18 months ago in Gear Change and the initial signs are encouraging. In this ATE video note there is no demonising of cars, no cars are bad or you shouldn’t use cars, but a realistic clarity – use cars less. Using cars less means we all benefit – here’s to more engagement that helps people understand their role in tackling climate change.