Walking is of course the most carbon efficient way to get from A to B, but there are not many people that are able to get everywhere they need to by walking. In this article I want to highlight a way that I think about travelling in order to keep my carbon output to a minimum.
Any time I want to get somewhere a bit faster than by walking or if the distance is a bit further than a short walk, I get on my bicycle. It is extremely efficient, I don’t have to search or pay for parking and I stay fit at the same time. Some cities are better set up for cycling than others, but in most cases you can get around very easily and in many cases a lot faster than by all other modes of transport.
I will be the first to point out that not all distances are viable for cycling and there are times of the year where snow and ice would make it very dangerous to cycle. My first option in these instances is utilize public transport as this is a far less carbon intensive form of transport. Of course public transport varies from city to city, with many rural areas having very limited services.
When public transport is not viable or in some cases not available then a car really is the most convenient way to get around. But you should not be getting into a gas guzzler with plumes of smoke and carbon coming out the tail pipe. At this stage there are loads of electric and hybrid cars available that will provide over 100 miles to the gallon or the equivalent thereof. For shorter distances they are ideal and in recent years the range has drastically increased making them ideal for commuting.
For long distances especially across state lines I prefer to use the railway network. For some reason it is not hugely popular mainly because it is seen as taking longer than flying. But this is seldom the case. Yes, you live in NY and want to go to LA, the rail network will take a lot longer than the flight. But if you are in NY and want to go to Washington DC, then rail is a pretty good option. The main advantage is that you leave from the center of NY and arrive in the center of Washington. No need to factor in the time and cost of getting to and from the airport!
If you have to fly somewhere then one thing you can do to offset the carbon output associated with the journey is by buying carbon credits. Your money will be used to deliver finance to things like forestry, renewable energy and conservation projects and there are very convenient calculators available that will tell you how much carbon you are responsible for and how many credits would offset this. I do this for my entire energy usage several times a year, which means that between using less energy and buying carbon credits I am essentially living a carbon neutral life.