TL; DR: Cars are responsible for half of transport-related emissions and you have the power to do something about your own car use; I freaking LOVE living car-free and you'll probably love driving less too; there are lots of ways to reduce your impact without giving up driving all together, so don't feel overwhelmed; list of actions at the end.
This is part of a series on the 4 highest-impact actions you can personally take to reduce your carbon footprint. While messaging around positive environmental actions has traditionally focused on things like recycling and switching to LED lightbulbs, these actions are far LESS effective than the big ones that aren't as heavily promoted: reducing air travel, reducing car travel, reducing the amount of meat we consume and reducing the number of children we plan to have.
So, what's up with cars?
In Australia, transport is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (the first is electricity, which is why I encourage you to switch to a climate-friendly power company). Transport includes cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, trains, boats and planes – with cars being responsible for approximately HALF of total transport emissions. Australians love to drive everywhere, all the damn time.
While you may not personally have the power to take trucks off the road or reduce commercial shipping, you do have the power to reduce your car use, encourage your neighbours to do the same, and be part of a local movement towards car-free living.
For the full low-down on transport emissions on Australia: What’s the deal with transport emissions?
Eventually, we’ll have to transition to a society that relies less on travel via petrol-powered cars. Around the world, different countries are already implementing solutions such as car-free neighbourhoods and electric public transport.
(Related: Electric public transport is coming to Australia)
Vehicle-sharing networks like Car Next Door or Go Get reduce the need for car ownership and make you more conscious about planning each car trip. (As a bonus, it’s MUCH cheaper to use one of these services as needed than it is to own your own car.)
Of course, you could just drive less or give your car up altogether. I’ve been living car-free for seven months and it’s one of the most joy-inducing life decisions I’ve ever made. I thought car-freedom would be kind of inconvenient and stressful, but it’s been the opposite; it has actually expanded my happiness in a variety of unexpected ways.
This September, take a 21-day challenge to live car-free. After some adjustment, you might be surprised how much you love it!
If you want to talk more about the practicalities of car-free living, please goodness ask me about it. It's one of the happiest things in my life and I will evangelise about it allll day long if prompted.
So what do you reckon? Can you just stop driving everywhere?
P.S.: These families get around everywhere by bike. Here's how.