Transport for London (TFL) uses more electricity than anything else in the city. The Underground and Overground rail networks alone consume an astonishing 1.2 terawatt-hours each year, enough to power around 360,000 homes. Then there are buses, trams and an array of other infrastructure.

TFL carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from the fuel used to run buses and other vehicles, electricity to power trains and trams, and the energy supplied to our buildings and equipment. TFL has neither addressed its growing energy use (including outsourced data centres) or its carbon footprint. Last time I put in an Freedom of Information request (FOI), TFL had no carbon budget.

The annual road transport emissions for the Greater London Area (GLA) are projected to be 5,728,930t CO2 in 2030, (London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory 201330 data). According to Donnachadh McCarthy (Eco-auditor) that is about 1.4% of all UK current emissions . However in 2030 it would represent a far higher percentage of the total UK emissions, as other sectors are cut.

Reducing emissions from road transport down to zero net carbon (by at least 2030) will set the agenda for the next London Mayoral election. My proposals are for the more appropriate 2025 target date. We must keep reminding ourselves that ‘winning slowly is the same as losing outright’.

  • I would ban private cars (except for blue badge) + remove all on street parking. We are going to need to reclaim our public space to make room for appropriate Climate Emergency mobilisation; mitigation AND adaptation.
  • Resident Parking Permits become Resident Allotment Permits. Councils have a Statutory Duty to supply allotments for anyone that wants one. This is currently not happening. Food security in a Climate Emergency is a high priority.
  • Community composts must be provided on every residential street to enable food growing.
  • Playstreets must be on every residential road to enable play and quality leisure time.
  • A dense cycle network must be implemented at speed, part of a climate emergency mobilisation. Mini-holland style local residential dense network joining up with segregated cycle lanes on main arteries and high motor traffic roads. Comprehensive.
  • This cycle network must expand far beyond London, to outlying commuter belts. A UK wide cycling network will also be essential for low carbon access to leisure, holiday destinations outside London. Electric assist cycles enable longer commutes and leisure trips.
  • Repairable, free, customised cycles for every Londoner. Beyond the bicycle and inclusive of all ages 6-99 years old. Part of the circular economy. And free secure cycle parking too
  • Fossil fuel cars recycled into cargo bikes. Recycled steel from cars entering the circular economy to make repairable, easily maintained cycles. Your next car is a cargo bike. A competition to design the best utility cycle prototype from the recycled steel of redundant fossil fuel cars
  • Cargo bike hire provided in every neighbourhood
  • Fruit and nut tree-lined Walking Networks throughout Greater London: Blossom in the Spring, shaded avenues in the Summer, harvesting in the Autumn, collecting leaves for composting over the winter.
  • Traffic-free Waterloo Garden Bridge. We had a taster of how Waterloo Bridge can become a wonderful space to enjoy our city. Popular and breathtakingly beautiful (without the noisy polluting motor vehicles)
  • Regular motor vehicle free days to cut emissions. Linked to regular work-free days. Traffic-free Fridays for Future
  • Motor traffic free Town Centres.
  • ‘Smart’ road pricing will never be social justice, it enables the wealthy to drive at whim. I do not support this corporate car lobby ‘solution’. It perpetuates car culture. Those who propose this ‘solution’ are very coy about giving details. Except of course the car lobby who want the first 3,000 miles to be free.
  • Congestion Charge must be expanded, 24/7, inclusive of ALL motor vehicles and the price raised.
  • ULEZ must be expanded to Greater London. 24/7 and include all fossil fuel vehicles and SUVs
  • Ban automation in motor vehicles. Not safe or proven technology. No algorithmic transparency and accountability. A very high energy user when we need to rapidly cut energy use. Up to 100 computers on just one automated vehicle, equivalent to boiling 3 electric kettles continuously. Plus radar, sensors and cameras. Mostly designed for data harvesting and mass surveillance.
  • 5G enabled automation is a potential heath and security threat. As well as a drain on clean energy. Ban 5G
  • Ban road building including Silvertown Tunnel
  • Stop Crossrail 2. Embedded carbon too high. Too expensive (18 billion for Crossrail 1)
  • Stop HS2 a highly destructive high Upfront Embedded Carbon investment. Draining resources, carbon, money and energy needed for de-carbonisation of current buildings and current public transport.
  • Cycle hubs at train stations and bus stops. Joined up transport.
  • License pedicabs and cycling taxis like pedalmeapp
  • Switch all possible delivery vans, logistics, electricians, plumbers, carpenters etc to cargo bikes
  • Sail cargo to cargo bike logistics in Greater London
  • Rewilding of roads, removing tarmac for regenerative biodiversity
  • Immediate ban on private jets. No airport expansion. Rationed flights.
  • Sail passenger ships replacing aviation
  • Ban on car and flight adverts
  • Transparent and fully accessible carbon accounting at Transport for London with a regular 6 month carbon budget update.
  • Rapid de-carbonisation of all Transport for London business model and ‘partners’ including vehicles, infrastructure, energy use and data /outsourced data.
  • Rapid cut in Transport for London energy use to meet renewables.
  • Solar on rooftops funded by Transport for London to aid in rapid decarbonisation. Transport for London is London’s biggest energy user. Further information here
  • Low tech supersedes high tech Low energy transport supercedes high energy use transport
  • Stop the immense digiwaste at Transport for London.
  • Energy and carbon rationing to focus transport choices

Transport options

Currently the Underground, Overground rail and Bus commute of 5 miles each way would be too carbon intensive for a net zero carbon personal lifestyle of approximately 2.7KG CO2 per day. Public Transport needs to come down to around 30g per mile to make it a viable option for longer commutes (10 miles x 30g = 300g) Cycling commute would be much lower (10 miles x 3g = 30g)

Note: Food is counted separately for a 5 mile two way cycling trip as no significant increased appetite (in my experience). Electric assist cycling can be as low as 13g per mile, depending on the embodied carbon in the electric cycle.

  • walking – 0g per mile (food is calculated separately)
  • cycling – 3g per mile (food is calculated separately)
  • Cycling taxi – 36g per mile
  • Half full hybrid London Routemaster bus – 46g per mile
  • Average London underground – 68g per mile
  • Shared e-scooter app – 202g per mile
  • Average car journey – 530g per mile
  • Electric car – 180g per mile

New car – 8-51 tonnes CO2e

  • Citroen C1 – 8-11 tonnes CO2e
  • Ford Focus Titanium – 16-20 tonnes
  • Renault Zoe (electric) – 11-12 tonnes
  • Volvo Polestar 2 (electric) – 26 tonnes
  • Toyota Prius (plug in hybrd) – 23-25 tonnes
  • Range Rover Sport – 49-51 tonnes

Note: New electric cars are generally more carbon intensive because of the battery. However the size of car is even more important. A Range Rover sport is 49-51 tonnes, just in manufacture. There is some debate over the entire remaining lifetime individual carbon budget to keep below 1.5C. In the literature between 16-75 tonnes. For Climate justice and equity we look at the average quality of around 30 tonnes. Buying a new car could use up your entire lifetime carbon budget in just one go!

Longer trips outside London

  • UK intercity train – 89g per mile (note: some electrified trains in France as little as 22g per mile)
  • Full 90 seater electric bus in the UK – 6g per mile
  • Sail passenger ship from London docks to the Caribbean- ?
  • London to Glasgow return by flying – 368Kg
  • London to Hong Kong return – 3.5 tonnes CO2e (economy) 4.5 tonnes (premium economy) 10 tonnes (Business class)

Supermarket delivery options

In the context of the pandemic, here are the supermarket delivery options. However I personally use a cycle with a basket or walk to the local shops with a reusable bag.

  • 40g by electric bike
  • 150g by electric van
  • 450g by diesel van
  • 1Kg if you drive yourself in an average petrol car

(source Mike Berners-Lee’s new updated 2020 version ‘How Bad are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything)

The sources for my One Tonne of Carbon per Year calculations are set out here

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