By Peter Deacon
At the Marlborough Earth Day Party on Saturday 21st April at the A&P Park, Climate Karanga will be encouraging all Marlburians to ‘Travel green’ - but what does ‘Travel green’ really mean?
You probably know about global warming, climate change, sea level rise and ocean acidification and how these are being caused by humans spewing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year. One of the major sources of these gases are our cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes and ships burning fossil fuels inside their engines. These account globally for about 15% of human greenhouse gas emissions.
So if we want to stop putting these gases into the atmosphere we need to - STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS!! It really is that simple.
The only problem is that our entire economy and way of life has become so dependent on energy from burning these fuels that we don’t know how to quit. We have unwittingly become oil addicts, but now it is clear we have to find alternative sources of energy quickly, if we do not the planet to continue warming, and extreme weather, droughts and floods to become more frequent and damaging.
So what are some of the solutions?
There are dozens of things you can do to reduce your own transport emissions but the obvious first step is to choose alternatives to using internal combustion engines or at least use them less often.
The easiest and cheapest option is to leave your car at home and either walk or use a bicycle, an e-bike, a mobility scooter if you own one, or public transport if available.
Some parents and schools organise ‘walking buses’ where they supervise groups of children walking to school each day, or one day a week, and this helps the children become fitter and healthier as well as eliminating vehicle fumes. Imagine how many car journeys are saved by this simple step?
Another option is to car share with friends or work-mates so instead of 2 or 3 cars being on the road each day with one person inside, there is just one car with 3 people. This reduces overall fuel and running costs, alleviates traffic congestion, reduces pollution and helps lower greenhouse gas emissions.
If you are likely to replace your car in the foreseeable future you could consider purchasing either a plug-in hybrid vehicle such as a Toyota Prius or a fully electric vehicle (EV) such as the Nissan Leaf or Hyundai Ioniq. Vehicles powered by electric motors and battery technology are clearly the future for road transport as they are cleaner, simpler to make, have fewer moving parts, cost much less to maintain and operate than petrol and diesel vehicles and emit much less greenhouse gas.
Most car companies are now rapidly converting their vehicle ranges to be fully electric or hybrid and several countries/states including Britain, France, India, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and California have stated their intention to completely phase out all internal combustion engine vehicles within the next few decades.
Finally if you must use your car you can now offset all your emissions by purchasing carbon credits from either:-
EKOS:- https://www.ekos.org.nz/ OR
These organisations invest the money you pay for the credits into permanent reforestation programmes that sequester the equivalent amount of carbon you have emitted from your car and store it in the trees. This helps lower greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and conserves habitat for our wildlife.
These are a collection of opinion articles principally written by CKM member Tom Powell for the Marlborough Express. Tom is a retired geologist who came to New Zealand in 2004 to work in the geothermal industry on the North Island, is a New Zealand citizen and now lives in Blenheim. Some articles have been written by other CKM members, and their names appear with those articles.