Did you know that emissions from transportation contribute approximately 80 percent of harmful air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide? Well, they do, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. And the Worldwatch Institute expects these emissions to triple by 2050.
If policies remain unchanged, the International Energy Agency predicts that there will be about three billion cars on the road by then, compared to today’s 800 million. Here in Singapore, the vehicle population is expected to rise to about 1.2 million by 2020.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.3 million deaths are caused by air pollution every year. Being small, particles emitted by vehicles are able to penetrate deep into the respiratory system. Children who have greater exposure to traffic-related air pollution experience worse health and development patterns, while adults are more prone to disease and premature death.
In order to reduce consumption of scarce resources and protect public health, transportation policies need to be changed. In the Netherlands, enforcement of an 80 km/h speed limit has reduced PM10 (particles up to 10 micrometres) emissions by between five and 25 percent, and nitrogen oxide emissions by between five and 30 percent.
Many countries are improving public transportation to discourage the use of private vehicles. Commuters in Manila, Philippines, will soon be able to access a transit database that links service information across different modes of transport as well as a trip-planning tool that will make public transport easier to use.
In Singapore, the transport sector is the third largest consumer of energy and contributes to 50 percent of the fine particles in the air. The LTA (Land Transport Authority) is planning to bring in buses with diesel hybrid technology, which can improve fuel economy by up to 30 percent, as well as reduce PM2.5 (particles up to 2.5 micrometres) emissions by up to 85 percent.
The government will also implement the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle (CEV) scheme in January 2013. Cars with low carbon emissions will qualify for rebates, while those with high carbon emissions will incur a corresponding registration surcharge.
While governments around the world spend millions to enhance transport systems, we can do our part too, by carpooling, cycling or taking public transport. Let’s reduce our carbon footprint for a cleaner and healthier environment!
1.3 million deaths are caused by urban air pollution
Per passenger, a car uses 12 times the energy a train uses
Transport-related emissions make up 80 percent of air pollutants