Researchers funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council and based at Oxford University found that the climate change impact of individuals' annual travel was, on average, equivalent to 5.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide. And although a large proportion of the population are responsible for roughly the same amount of emissions, a few people are responsible for a disproportionately large share of the total.
The Oxford researchers found that 61 per cent of all travel emissions came from individuals in the top 20 per cent of 'emitters', while only 1 per cent of emissions came from those in the bottom 20 per cent.
This high emitters group is mostly made up of employed men in high income groups (earning over £40,000 per year). And across the board, people in high income groups have an average climate change impact of 11.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide - twice the national average. This means they earn around four times as much as low earners and produce on average almost four times as much carbon dioxide emissions.
The research, based on a survey of almost 500 people in Oxfordshire, found that air travel accounted for 70 per cent of personal travel carbon emissions. Individuals classified as being in the top tenth of emitters, were responsible for producing 19.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, from their flying alone. This is especially high given that the suggested safe level of personal carbon emissions, the figure that any future carbon allowance scheme would probably be based upon, could be as low as two tonnes per person.
Car driving was the second largest cause of personal travel carbon emissions and the results of the survey suggest that enforcing motorway speed limits could save up to four per cent of all car travel carbon emissions.
Commenting on the research, project leader Professor John Preston, said:
"The UK is facing tough choices on how to lower greenhouse gas emissions in response to climate change. The transport sector contributes 26 per cent of UK carbon emissions and is the only major sector in which emissions are predicted to rise in the period till 2020. Transport is thus a priority area for government policy. This research helps us understand the extent to which individuals' travel patterns, their location and their social class make an impact on climate change through the carbon dioxide emissions created by their transport use."
Annika Howard | alfa
Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta
Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences