Why it matters
Petrol and diesel vehicles produce lots of dangerous pollution. In fact, road transport is now the largest source of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions in the UK. Could you help cut down on pollution by travelling differently on some of your journeys?
Energy and fuel
Going from place to place always uses energy – and all that energy has to come from somewhere. If we’re walking or cycling about, then we use the energy we’ve got from eating food as our fuel. Tasty! But if we’re driving a car, riding a motorbike or flying in a plane, the fuels being used can produce different emissions.
Transport emissions create 27% of the UK’s greenhouse gases. That’s whopping!
1. Petrol and diesel
Different vehicles use different kinds of fuel. The most common are petrol and diesel, which power many of the cars, vans, trucks and buses you see on the roads. But these fossil fuels produce dangerous pollution from their exhaust pipes. That’s bad for our air!
Thankfully, more and more people are replacing their old vehicles with new ones powered by cleaner fuels. Phew! Electric cars use a battery (a bit like the one inside your phone or tablet) and don’t produce any emissions from exhausts as they travel. That’s because they don’t have one – or an engine.
Hybrid cars are another popular option. They have both an engine that runs on petrol and an electric battery. Normally, hybrid cars run in electric mode at slower speeds and in petrol mode only when going fast. That means they don’t pollute the air while they’re in traffic jams or busy city centres.
Hydrogen cars are reaaally clever! They have a fuel cell that takes in hydrogen gas, which then reacts with oxygen to generate electricity that powers a motor. And best of all? The only waste product they produce is water! There aren’t that many hydrogen cars around in the UK at the moment. That might change, though.
DID YOU KNOW?
Electric and hydrogen cars don’t produce any pollution, but making them and their batteries in factories does.
Walking and cycling
People sometimes call walking and cycling “getting there under your own steam”, but it doesn’t produce steam or any other pollutants! Travelling by foot or by bike is good exercise that’s great for your health. It’s also free. Are there any journeys you currently make in a car that you could walk or cycle for?
Trains, buses and coaches are often a cheap and easy way to travel, especially if you’re not going far. They can be an adventure, too! How much pollution they produce depends on the kind of fuel they use. But because you’re sharing the journey with lots of other people, you’ll do less damage to our air than if everyone on board was in their own petrol or diesel car. Awesome!
Higher or lower
Can you tell which of these modes of transport produces more CO2
70g per kilometer
That's right, well done!
Nope, try again.