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On the Road to Sustainability: How (and why) the Transportation Industry is Slowly Getting More Eco-Friendly


Dixie Somers

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Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Mackenzie

Anyone who lives in a city is aware of the negative environmental impacts of the transportation industry. Most cars on the road today still have internal combustion engines that emit large amounts of carbon and other pollutants. Even seemingly clean alternatives, such as electric subways and trains, still release tons of carbon annually. In all, according to the EPA, transportation was responsible for emission of just under two thousand million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, just in the U.S. Coupled with the struggle to reduce emissions is the growing population both in the U.S. (0.77% annually) and globally (just over 1% annually). Thus, the transportation industry is in a paradox of increased demand, concurrent with a need for greener practices. Additionally, many "green" technologies are projected to not be available until 2020 or later. So, what's being done to remedy the situation?

Lesser Evils

As mentioned above, cars are an obvious source of emissions. Large amounts of carbon are emitted to transport a few individuals or less. Therefore, a common solution, especially in large urban areas, is the implementation of policies encouraging people to use public transportation. Electric trains and subways do produce emissions, but are negligible compared to gas powered vehicles. But, objectively, how much greener are these forms of transport? According to a 2008 analysis of carbon pathways in transportation, switching from car to rail transportation saves an average of 106g of carbon dioxide per kilometer traveled. This may sound insignificant. But, according to The Washington Post, the average American's commute is 25 miles. So, if we extrapolate and convert this figure, the average American would reduce his or her annual carbon emissions by 2444 lbs, assuming a five day a week commute.

Tech Savvy Trucking

Given that gas cars won't be off the road in the foreseeable future, there's another solution to carbon emissions from transportation that can be applied on the road. Between integrative software from IBM and a growing demand from inefficient tractor trailers and trucks, the carbon emissions due to trucking are projected to decrease significantly in the coming years.

The transportation industry is facing growing demand in addition to growing pressure to go green. However, an industry this large takes time to implement widespread changes. While many green technologies are still being developed, proactive measures can be taken. The transportation industry needs help. But it has solutions, both on the road and off. The information for this article was provided by the professionals of 99 Truck Parts & Industrial Equipment Ltd., who specialize in truck parts in Surrey.

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