How Transportation is Becoming More Sustainable

As of 2020, transportation was one of the largest contributors to Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs) in the US. The greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are primarily a result of the fossil fuels that are burnt for use in vehicles such as cars and trucks, and from ships, trains and aircraft. This article will look at how transportation industries are tackling climate change.


Air transportation is one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions in the United States. The exact impact of aviation on climate change is a hotly-debated topic but it is widely accepted that globally, aviation is responsible for around 2.5% of CO2 emissions. As the aviation sector expands to meet demand, its share of overall emissions will likely increase, which is why as an industry, aviation is working to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Often air travel and private aviation cannot be avoided, however, there are steps that aviation companies can and are doing to reduce through emissions through options such as empty leg flights. Empty legs are flights that are scheduled to fly without any passengers, usually because an aircraft needs to reposition itself. With pre-defined destinations and departure times, customers can book a seat on an empty leg flight to minimise their impact on the environment.

Innovations in aviation fuel are also helping to tackle the sector’s contribution to GHGs, with fuel efficiency continually improving in recent years and many aviation companies using alternatives to fossil fuel, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Railway Transportation

Rail is one of the greenest methods of transport, accounting for only a very small percentage of global carbon emissions – around 1% of total transport emissions.

One of the ways that railways can become even more sustainable is by moving away from fossil fuels and powering trains with electricity generated from renewable, sustainable sources. Freight is also an important consideration, as every ton of rail freight helps prevent highways from becoming congested with trucks and reduces carbon emissions.

Encouraging people to consider railways when travelling for leisure and helping companies to see the benefits of utilising rail for their freight needs is an important step. By making rail a more attractive option and highlighting the benefits for the environment, we can take better advantage of this low-carbon method of transportation.

Buses and Other Public Transport

Public transportation has multiple benefits for the environment, as not only does it lower carbon emissions but it also reduces congestion on roads and lessens air pollution, which results in better air quality.

However, public transportation works best when fully embraced by commuters, as simply having buses driving around with no passengers won’t drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore local governments need to make public transportation an appealing choice for travellers by ensuring that public transport networks are robust, reliable and affordable.


Motor vehicles are one of the largest polluters and a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that by 2035, the total number of vehicles on the road will exceed 2 billion globally. This means that cars must be made a more sustainable method of transportation.

The automotive industry is already moving towards sustainability and coming up with innovative solutions to meet consumer demand for zero-emissions vehicles and electric cars. However, more can still be done to reduce the environmental impact of vehicle manufacturing and car use moving forward, including utilising renewable energy sources and embracing sustainable value chains.

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