Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Europe saves €750m and 630,000 tonnes in carbon emissions through carpooling – UNEP

BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Europeans who carpooled from 2008 to 2011, were able to save over 630,000 tonnes in carbon emissions and 324 million litres of gas, which translated to $945 million (€750 million).

Disclosing that the cost of traffic congestion, pollution and accidents in the EU alone well exceeds $630 billion (€500 billion) each year, UNEP also projects that if current trends continue, global vehicle traffic will increase by 60 percent between 2005 and 2025.

The UN agency also divulged that in 2009, railways alone produced 1.8 percent of total CO2 emissions from the transport sector, corresponding to 0.6 percent of total CO2 emissions among the 27 member states of the European Union (EU27).

These disclosures were made yesterday by UNEP, when it launched a new campaign aimed at promoting sustainable transport choices among commuters, at the Rio+20 conference currently ongoing in Brazil.

The campaign – Let’s Travel Together, was launched in collaboration with over 20 train, metro, bus, and carpooling companies across Europe, to show that sustainable transport is a first-class entry point to greener economies.

According to UNEP, Let’s Travel Together is also expected to encourage travellers to share their cars with friends, use public transport and take other actions to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles among others.

Announcing the campaign launch through a press release issued simultaneously in Geneva, Switzerland and Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP said, “Moving towards greener societies isn’t just environmentally friendly, but also economically and socially sound. If we double the market share of public transport, the urban transport energy consumption would only increase marginally, saving around 170 million tonnes oil equivalent and avoiding the emission of around 550 million tonnes CO2 equivalent in 2025, compared to the business as usual scenario.”

Giving more details on the campaign, UNEP said Facebook users can back the campaign and signal their support for sustainable transport by selecting an animal avatar and boarding the ‘Green Vehicle’, together with other social media users, at www.greenup-unep.org/traveltogether/.

“The campaign is designed with social media in mind: Let’s Travel Together’s centre piece is a web application where your Facebook avatar will appear on a green, futuristic vehicle together with everyone who has pledged to take sustainable transport. Participants will also be able to embark the animal of their choice on this virtual journey; if they convince their friends to join the adventure, they will enter the campaign competition and may win free tickets!,” UNEP stated further.

The release said as part of UNEP’s GreenUp initiative, Let’s Travel Together will show in a virtual and entertaining way how sustainable transport can support the transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient green economy.

“From today, transport companies and associations will promote Let’s Travel Together on their websites and social media channels, encouraging visitors to get on board, invite friends and enter for a chance to win free travel in Europe,” UNEP said.

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