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TfL Environmental Report Illustrates Difficulty in CO2 Reduction for Transport

TfL CO2 emissions. Click to enlarge.

In its just-published Environmental Report 2006, Transport for London (TfL) notes that while it has made progress in providing a “cleaner and greener transport network” the challenge for emissions and CO2 reduction in the transport sector is a difficult one.

Using the same sources for emissions reporting, TfL’s CO2 emissions rose 2% in 2005/2006 compared to 2004/2005. The new report features more comprehensive reporting from new sources, however. Comparing that expanded dataset to the year prior shows a 22% increase in total CO2 emissions, from 1.389 million tonnes in 2004/2005 to 1.696 million tonnes in 2005/2006.

CO2 emissions per passenger km by mode. Click to enlarge.

TfL is the integrated authority responsible for London’s transport system, which includes the London Underground; surface transport (London Buses; Dial-a-Ride, a door-to-door service for disabled people; and Victoria Coach Station; London River Services; taxis and private hire vehicles); Streets; and London Rail.

The Mayor of London has set a series of targets for the reduction of CO2. The 2010 target is a 15% reduction compared to 1990 levels. The UK as a whole aspires to a 60% reduction by 2050. In London, transportation contributes 22% of the total emissions of CO2 (10 million tonnes), with cars contributing 47% of that and public transit 21%.

TfL will be working to ensure that the transport sector contributes as much as practicable to achieving the Mayor’s targets. This will be challenging for the transport sector, as current CO2 emissions from transport in the city are approximately equivalent to those of 1990 and without intervention, they could rise for the next 10-15 years as London’s population grows. Projects that are able to achieve a significant reduction will take some years to implement.

During 2005/06 reported CO2 emissions increased across TfL operations by 307,000 tonnes, largely as a result of more comprehensive reporting. CO2 emissions from private hire vehicles that are licensed by TfL were included for the first time this year, contributing 253,000 tonnes, or more than 82 per cent of the apparent increase. If newly reported emissions are not taken into account, the actual increase in emissions over the year was two per cent, due to the increased frequency and length of services.

...Bus emissions [of CO2} per passenger km increased moderately [7%] during 2005/06. More frequent services were operated, resulting in more fuel use and CO2 emissions, and although passengers made more journeys, distances travelled fell, resulting in lower passenger km.

—TfL Environmental Report

TfL has concluded, however, that transport related CO2 emissions in London could be virtually halved from current levels by 2050 by promoting behavioral change and energy efficiency, and by accelerating investment in new technology.

Behavioral change includes cuts in energy consumption at stations, training bus drivers to operate as fuel-efficiently as possible, and wider public campaigns for eco-driving.

During the past year, TfL continued its trials of hydrogen-powered buses and also introduced hybrid diesel-electric buses to the fleet. TfL is accelerating large-scale fleet replacement, focusing particularly on hybrids. In parallel, TfL will ensure that all existing diesel buses use a B5 biodiesel blend as soon as possible.

TfL expects CO2 emissions from buses to stabilize around 2008/09, when there will be a greater number of Euro-4 buses—estimated to have 5% lower fuel consumption—in the fleet.

In addition, TfL is preparing a Sustainable Stations Strategy to reduce energy consumption and/or increase the use of renewable energy at new and retrofitted stations. In September 2005, for example, TfL announced plans to roll out the world’s largest network of solar-powered bus stops. With 1,300 solar panels installed so far, TfL aims to have 5,000 in place by April 2010.

Financial constraints and practical considerations, such as the need to ensure the reliability of new technologies, must be taken into account when determining what can be achieved in practice.

TfL has a number of successes to which it points:

  • Cycling in London has grown fast, up 72% on Red Routes in the past six years.

  • The Congestion Charging scheme has reduced CO2 emissions from road transport by 16% in the zone since its introduction. Particulate matter (PM10) emissions in the congestion charging zone have dropped by 15%.

  • The new London Construction Consolidation Center, a one-stop center for the drop-off of building materials for subsequent local distribution to construction sites, cut the number of delivery journeys needed from 1,500 to 395 in the first six months, and reduced CO2 emissions from those vehicles by 73%.

For the future, in addition to the focus on energy efficiency, implementation of zero- and low-emission buses, and expanding and improving the mass-transit network, TfL is planning to extend the Congestion Charging zone into further parts of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and is exploring the introduction of a London-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

The LEZ, which could come into effect as early as 2008, is a designated area where measures have been put in place to improve air quality by preventing or deterring the most polluting vehicles from driving within the zone.

The proposed LEZ would cover Greater London and would initially apply to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses and coaches. It would later be extended to include the larger light goods vehicles and minibuses.

The LEZ would levy a substantial daily charge for noncompliance with specified emission standards—initially Euro 3 for PM10 emissions, with tightening to Euro 4 standards by 2012 for HGVs, buses and coaches.



fyi CO2

Good illustration of the complexity involved with transport sector greening/regulation. Tackling electric power generation would greatly complement the objective. Coal fired power generation hovers around 40% in the UK last time I checked..


Methane is a 20 times stronger GHG than CO2, a large source of methane is cattle and rice paddies. Methane has a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere, so the quickest gains could be made there.

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