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Wind Turbines in the Mountains

October 2023 StartNOW Challenge: Week 4

Welcome to the 4th and final week of the StartNOW challenge this year!

This week, we continue our examination of energy consumption, focusing on work-related travel and transportation. Globally, energy use is responsible for a staggering 73.2% of greenhouse gas emissions, with transportation contributing 16.2% (1). Within this segment, road transport, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and buses, is the major emitter, with passenger travel and freight accounting for distinct portions. Other transportation modes such as aviation, shipping, rail, and pipelines also play a role, and emissions are notably influenced by class divisions on flights. Long-haul flights see significantly higher carbon emissions in business and first class due to greater space per seat and the energy-intensive take-off phase.

Moreover, we acknowledge that emissions come from various sectors, with energy generation being the most significant. Each source requires unique mitigation approaches, given their diverse processes and technologies. Our exploration aims to shed light on these complexities, fostering informed discussions and sustainable solutions.


Emissions from different modes of transport

“Transport: 16.2% Road transport (11.9%): emissions from the burning of petrol and diesel from all forms of road transport which includes cars, trucks, lorries, motorcycles and buses. Sixty percent of road transport emissions come from passenger travel (cars, motorcycles and buses); and the remaining forty percent from road freight (lorries and trucks). 

This means that, if we could electrify the whole road transport sector, and transition to a fully decarbonized electricity mix, we could feasibly reduce global emissions by 11.9%.”


The remaining portion of the 16.2% emissions from transport come from aviation, shipping, rail and pipeline.

“The flight figures in the table are for economy class. For long haul flights, carbon emissions per passenger per kilometer traveled are about three times higher for business class and four times higher for first class, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

This is because there's more space per seat, so each person accounts for a larger amount of the whole plane's pollution. Taking off uses more fuel than cruising. For shorter flights, this accounts for a larger proportion of the journey. And it means lower emissions for direct flights than multi-leg trips.”(2)

“Several activity sectors contribute to the emission of greenhouse gasses, with energy generation the most significant. Each source of carbon emission is the outcome of specific processes and technologies that cannot be collectively addressed. 

For instance, carbon emissions derived from electric power generation based on fossil fuels (coal or gas) cannot be mitigated in the same manner as carbon emissions related to the manufacturing of cement.” (4)

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