Reducing vehicles use across the globe can cut carbon dioxide emissions by thousands of tonnes. As mention before, efficiency is unquestionably the largest, cheapest, and cleanest wedge among the many we need to rid carbon from our energy economy.
Fuel consumption growth in the American transportation sector reflects the steady growth in vehicle-miles travelled: light vehicle highway travel grew by 4.4% annually in the eighties, but has slowed to 2.8% since 1993. Light duty vehicles (cars, vans, light trucks) currently account for more than half of all transportation energy consumption, and their dominance will persist in the next decade as their fuel share will steadily grow by about 1% annually, while fuel consumption by freight trucks is forecast to grow at 2% per year .
Avoiding unnecessary driving is the most effective way to reduce vehicle emissions; however, traffic trends indicate more vehicles are being driven more frequently due to urban sprawl. The options we have available to reduce the number of vehicles being driven on our roads include:
1. Carpool or ride-share. Some urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.
2. Use public transportation. Check your local public transit information.
3. If your employer permits, consider telecommuting or staggering your work hours to avoid sitting in traffic and wasting gas during peak rush hours.
4. Protect your health and your pocketbook by walking – or biking – to your destination whenever possible.
Using an alternative form of transportation or ride sharing does make a difference.
For this carbon wedge to work and reduce global warming other efficiencies will need to be gained by reducing vehicles use across all transport sectors:
Freight Transport. Strategies and technologies are needed to address congestion in urban areas and freight gateways by increasing freight transfer and movement efficiency among ships, trucks, rail and ports.
Urban Design. Studies of advanced urban-engineering concepts for cities to evaluate alternatives to urban sprawl. Such engineering analysis would consider the co-location of activities with complementary needs for energy, water, and other resources and would enable evaluation of alternative configurations that could significantly reduce vehicle-miles travelled and GHG emissions. City transport systems providing faster and cheaper movement of passengers than the urban automobile.