How is transport connected to climate change?
According the the EPA, the transportation sector includes the movement of people and goods by cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, and other vehicles. The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are CO2 emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans. These sources account for over half of the emissions from the sector. The remainder of greenhouse gas emissions comes from other modes of transportation, including freight trucks, commercial aircraft, ships, boats, and trains as well as pipelines and lubricants.
The transport sector has an essential and positive role to play in economic and social development, and transportation needs will undoubtedly increase. However, since the transport sector is also a source of atmospheric emissions, there is need for a review of existing transport systems and for more effective design and management of traffic and transport systems.
Key questions for this area
If you are teaching or studying issues related to transport, or are looking to add content to your unit, here are some key questions that you should be able to answer and/or consider:
- What are the ongoing impacts and implications of transport and particularly the energy requirements to sustain fossil fuel dependent transportation?
- To what degree does the transportation industry contribute to climate change?
- What are the means and modes of transportation that contribute most intensely to climate change?
- What feasible alternatives exist to transportation that relies on fossil fuels as a means of transportation?
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