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More Sustainable Commuting Could Save Ten Billion Kg of CO2e

More Sustainable Commuting Could Save Ten Billion kg of CO2e
22 September 2020

Revolutionising the commute is key to reducing UK carbon emissions, new research from Mobilityways argues.

To mark World Car Free Day (22 September), Mobilityways has released data that shows 10 billion kg of CO2e (CO equivalent)  could be saved if people commuted more sustainably, either by walking, cycling, using public transport or car-sharing – the equivalent of London’s carbon emissions for almost four months.

Mobilityways, an organisation committed to helping businesses achieve zero-carbon commuting, analysed travel data for 285,000 commuters across 200 major UK employers – the data suggests there is significant potential for people to commute more sustainably.

However, other research suggests that the role of the daily commute has less of an impact on sustainable travel habits than first assumed. 


"As organisations overhaul their operations to manage social distancing and the health of their workforce, it’s vital that commuting is considered as part of this mix."

–Ali Clabburn

CEO, Mobilityways


Transport Biggest Source of UK Carbon Emissions


Transport is the biggest source of UK carbon emissions. In the UK, commuting accounts for 18 billion kg of CO2e – 25 per cent of transport emissions and five per cent of total emissions.

Mobilityways data shows that 42 per cent of commuters could walk or cycle, 46 per cent could use public transport, and 92 per cent have one or more colleagues living within one mile of them who they could share a lift to work with. The average commuter has over five people they could share a lift with within walking distance of their home. But census data for England shows that only 15 per cent of commuters currently walk or cycle, 18 per cent use public transport and just 10 per cent share a car with a co-worker.

According to Mobilityways, the opportunity to reduce commuter emissions is currently being missed. The Department for Transport’s Decarbonising Transport document, published in March 2020, does not mention commuters or the importance of employer travel plans.

In addition, current rules for public sector and business greenhouse gas emission reporting do not make the inclusion of commuting and grey fleet business miles compulsory, bypassing an important opportunity to incentivise and motivate employers to tackle the issue.

Ali Clabburn, CEO of Mobilityways, said: “Employers play an essential role in decarbonising the commute. COVID-19 is forcing businesses to re-examine their entire ways of working. As organisations overhaul their operations to manage social distancing and the health of their workforce, it’s vital that commuting is considered as part of this mix.”


The Effect of Home Working on Carbon Emissions


ThisWeekinFM recently reported that scholars at the universities of Bristol and Birmingham had published an award-winning paper that proposed the sustainability of home workers’ travel patterns is more dependent upon the accessibility of non-work activities, than on the daily commute.

The research, which examined the travel patterns of home workers, in a seemingly counter-intuitive conclusion, revealed that working outside the office can encourage unsustainable transport patterns, increased car dependency and reduced physical activity. The paper won the Early Career Researcher Award at the 2020 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Research Excellence.

Picture: a photograph of the interior of a car, showing a person driving with a passenger next to them

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 22 September 2020


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