What is Sustainable Transport?

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  • Written By: J.S. Metzker Erdemir
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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Transportation accounts for 20%-25% of world energy consumption and carbon emissions. Carbon in the atmosphere becomes greenhouse gas, which leads to global warming. Governments worldwide are looking at different approaches to sustainable transport as a means of reducing carbon emissions. Sustainable transport is transportation that creates little or no pollution, such as walking or bicycle commuting. Electric and hybrid vehicles and vehicles fueled by bioethanol can be considered forms of sustainable transport. Sustainable transport also refers to public planning and transportation policy that aims to reduce carbon emissions while providing fair and reasonable ltransportafotion to all citizens.

Walking or cycling to work or school are considered the most environmentally friendly forms of transportation because they use human energy and don’t release pollutants into the air. Many cities worldwide encourage their citizens to walk or bike by creating dedicated pedestrian and cycling routes and education programs designed to teach people about alternative forms of transportation. Encouraging people to walk and cycle has the added benefit of contributing directly to people’s health and fitness.


Vehicles that use bioethanol, electrical vehicles, and hybrid vehicles are also forms of sustainable transport because they burn less fossil fuels. Bioethanol is a form of pure alcohol distilled from sugars in fruits and vegetables. Most cars today are able to run on gasoline that is 10% bioethanol, and some can handle higher ethanol ratios. In 2007, Portland, Oregon was the first US city to require all gasoline to contain at least 10% bioethanol, with the rest of the state instituting the same standard in 2008. Several US states have since followed. Since 1977 in Brazil, all gasoline has been required to contain at least 20% bioethanol and in 2008, Sweden introduced a fleet of electric-bioethanol hybrid buses into Stockholm’s public transportation system.

Many city, state and federal governments worldwide encourage their citizens to use sustainable vehicles and fuel by offering tax incentives, bonuses, and other perks like free parking to people who use bioethanol and electric and hybrid cars. Sustainable fuel use education programs teach people about driving methods that reduce fuel consumption and pollution. Some cities have created city-wide carpooling systems, or encourage carpooling with High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. Other sustainable transport programs include city planning that reduces urban sprawl and provides services within a reasonable distance of residential areas. Many cities are also working to create public transportation that runs on sustainable fuel, and to expand existing public transportation systems to make them more accessible and convenient to more people.


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