Climate change

Cherry Allan's picture
More cycling will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Headline Messages: 
  • Climate change threatens the future of our way of life and economy, as well as our health and the natural environment that cyclists treasure. There is little doubt amongst informed scientists that greenhouse emissions from human activity are already contributing to an increase in extreme weather events and loss of life around the world, and that dangerously high levels of CO2 concentrations are already being reached. To delay tackling climate change will be far more costly than acting now.
  • Cycling provided highly efficient transport before carbon-intensive travel became widespread, and it is part of the solution for a low-carbon future. It is one of the simplest lifestyle choices that individuals can make to reduce their carbon footprint. It also has huge benefits for their health, their wallets and their neighbourhoods.
  • Government bodies and businesses should act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by encouraging cycling as a zero-carbon option and by reducing the need to travel.
Key facts: 
  • It is generally accepted that climate change risks becoming critical if the world fails to limit temperature rises to 2°C over the pre-industrial average (although lower figures have been suggested).
  • A dramatic, worldwide increase in cycling – from a current 6% or so of all urban passenger miles to 11% in 2030 and 14% in 2050 – could cut CO2 emissions from urban passenger transport by about 7% by 2030, and nearly 11% in 2050.
  • The Climate Change Act 2008 commits the UK to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels.
  • The transport sector emitted almost 21% of the UK’s GHG emissions in 2013; 92% of this came from road transport (as opposed to air, rail etc.).
  • Passenger cars account for more than half of all CO2 emissions from the road transport sector – 58% in 2013, much more than any other mode.
  • If the amount of mileage cycled in Britain were doubled by decreasing car use, this would reduce CO2 emissions by 0.6 million tonnes per year. By switching from driving to cycling for a four mile each-way commute, an individual could save half a tonne of CO2 per year – or 6% of their personal carbon footprint.
Cycling UK View (formal statement of Cycling UK's policy): 
  • The imperative to halt and reverse the growth of greenhouse emissions should be the central aim of wider transport, planning and economic policies, locally, regionally and nationally. 
  • Cycling should be promoted as a zero-carbon transport option that can deliver worthwhile carbon savings, together with many other benefits, at very low cost.
  • National and local policy frameworks should aim to reduce the need to travel and promote cycling and other low-carbon alternatives to the car, and this should be a central objective for all relevant development agencies and local authorities.
  • Transport projects and development proposals that are predicted (or are likely) to increase greenhouse gas emissions should be rejected, and low-carbon alternatives developed instead.
  • The Government should oblige local authorities to make their contribution towards meeting the targets set by the Climate Change Act and progress should be reported and monitored effectively.  Voluntary action alone is not sufficient.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
April 2016

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