In the development of forward looking transportation plans, municipalities have an obligation to implement strategies to reduce emissions and support the BC Climate Action Plan, which has the goal of reducing emissions by 33 percent from 2007 levels by 2020 and then achieving an 80% reduction by 2050. We often work towards this by trying to focus spending on walking, cycling and transit infrastructure and making better land use decisions. We can provide the infrastructure or service provision to allow people to drive less but cannot force them, at least, without resorting to some form of road pricing. People have to make the change themselves and what we actually require is quite a large change in each and everybody's habits. If each of us took the initiative to personally do our part in reducing our own emissions by 33 percent, how could we do it? Read on...
In this post I have focussed on the commute, not all options are suitable for every person's personal circumstances, maybe none are, but maybe there is one that works for you. Of course a 33% reduction in your commute still leaves all your other travel, meaning the 33% is diluted, anyway, here are some things to think about:
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- Choose a different mode: Taking transit, walking or cycling as appropriate would reduce your personal emissions almost entirely, doing this even just two days per week could save 40 percent in emissions. Other benefits include improved health through increased walking or cycling, even if choosing transit. Changing mode is also likely to save money through reduced gas consumption and because you won't be in a car, there will be less congestion. What is required to allow this option? Walkable streets, bikeable streets, living close enough to work to making walking or biking feasible, or reasonably frequent transit service between your origin and destination.
- Work from home: Working from home two days per week would also reduce emissions from commuting by 40 percent. Other benefits include significant time savings on those days, reduce stress from driving the daily commute less, money saved from lower gas consumption, less congestion What is required to allow this option? The right type of job, the right IT infrastructure and an employer open to the idea.
- Work a 4 day week: By working an extra hour each day you could work a four day week every two weeks. While this would only reduce emissions by approximately 10 percent, this would assume you do not drive on the extra day off, at the least its likely to be one less vehicle on the road during peak hours. Benefits of this option are that employers get the same amount of work done, while employees get an extra 26 days off per year. What is required to allow this option? An employer willing to accommodate this.
- Reduced working hours: By allowing employees the option of working less days per week for proportionately less salary, i.e. 4 day week for 80% of salary. Employees travel less days per week, they have a better work life balance, employers potentially have less downtime as the employee is better utilized, there are less cars on the road. What is required to allow this option? An employer willing to accommodate this.
- Move closer to work: Reducing the distance you have to travel to work will generally result in reduced gas and therefore reduced emissions. If you're planning to move home, consider somewhere closer to work, not only reducing emissions but saving time and money too and potentially opening up more feasible options to walk, cycle or take transit. What is required to allow this option? Simply personal choice.
- Move to a location with better transportation options: You don't have to move closer to work, perhaps moving to a location close to a transit hub or located a long a major bikeway can make it easier to choose these modes. What is required to allow this option? Primarily personal choice, but well planned communities help encourage this type of choice.
- Change vehicle for a more efficient one: If you do need a car, a more fuel efficient vehicle can reduce emissions, and save money too. Choosing the first vehicle on this list that meets your daily needs would be a good place to start, it can be adjusted for any year if you're looking for an older vehicle. Changing from a large SUV or truck to a midsize car could esily save 33% in emissions. I'll save the debate about the emissions of new vehicle manufacture for another post, at some point new vehicles will be required to continue to provide used vehicles. What is required to allow this option? Primarily personal choice, but government policies could incentivize the selection of more fuel efficient vehicles.
- Make a multi-modal trip: i.e. drive then take transit by using a park and ride if available, or even park close to a good cycle route and and cycle part way. Reduce your driving distance by 33% and you emission will likely drop by about the same. What is required to allow this option? Park and Ride facilities in appropriate locations.
- Make a multi-purpose trip: If you have to get the groceries, do it on the way home rather than making a separate trip, saving yourself fuel and time, maybe not 33% but still a worthwhile saving. What is required to allow this option? I guess just the right store on your route home.
- Ride share: By taking one car instead of two, drivers can cut emissions by approximately 50 percent and save the same on gas money too. What is required to allow this option? Suitable website or other service to allow people to safely find trip partners. Could be incentivized with waived parking fee's for those that choose to ride share.
- Buy carbon offsets: One example from a google search brought up www.offsetters.ca website which allows you to buy offsets, according to their website $80 would offset my annual vehicle emissions which seems very little. What is required to allow this option? Primarily personal choice, employers could offset business travel, or it could be included in the price of a new vehicle, annual insurance or vehicle license.
Did I miss anything?