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Travel continues to be one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions globally. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough over 39% of emissions results from travel - mainly form our cars. 

The travel hierarchy is a helpful tool for identifying which modes of transport are better for the environment. Finding the right alternatives to high emission modes of transport, even if its only one step-up the hierarchy,  can have a huge impact on our overall emissions. There are lots of options for reducing transport emissions.

Explore local holidays, train trips abroad, alternatives to the daily commute and more.  If you do have to fly, research how you can offset your emissions. Many airlines have this option when purchasing tickets. Maybe consider taking a train instead of flying or take more holidays locally. Walk or cycle where possible and if not use public transport. If you need to go by car, consider an electric one or a car share.

The transport hierarchy describes how different modes of transport emit different amounts of carbon. Worst emitters are planes with active transport (walking, running etc) as the most sustainable.
The Travel Hierarchy

Some ideas are described below

68% of journeys in the UK are under five miles. Most are even shorter - these very short journeys disproportionately contribute to transport carbon emissions, as air pollution. Consider whether you could swap your car for these short trips

Inactivity is also a health problem. Research shows that keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35% and risk of early death by as much as 30%. It’s recommended that adults take part in 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week.

One way to achieve this target is to do 30 minutes’ exercise at least five times a week – the perfect length of time for short, local journeys on foot or by bike. By swapping short car journeys with cycling or walking, you can easily build exercise into your day and reap the health benefits.

There are lots of different type of bike available now too - e-bikes can be helpful for those slightly longer journeys while cargo bikes could be a great option for the weekly shop or school run. 

Explore our cycling pages for tips on cycling safety.

There are also a wide range of cycling routes across the County - details of some of these can be found on our website

Car clubs provide access to a car without ownership. They enable short term car or van rental - some even allow as little as 30minute bookings. The vehicles are usually located in designated park spaces on the highways, with a range of vehicles types available, making them a highly convenient option. For infrequent car users they can be much cheaper than owning a car too.

Car Clubs help reduce carbon emissions through:

  • Providing newer lower emission vehicles than the average private car
  • Enabling opportunities to try hybrid or zero emission vehicles
  • Reducing the number of vehicles on the road
  • Reducing the number of vehicles parking on the highway, alleviating congestion

We have more information on available car clubs on our website. 

Electric vehicles are on the rise, with increasing numbers of new registrations each year. At the same time Government has proposed banning the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles from 2030. EVs produce no carbon emissions and are a key way for the UK to reach its net zero by 2050 ambitions.

What is an electric vehicle?

As with diesel or petrol, there are lots of different types of EV. The Energy Saving Trust describes the differences and the benefits of driving one instead of a petrol or diesel equivalent on their website. 

Benefits of electric vehicles

Other than their reduced impact on the environment, EVs have a number of other benefits:

  • Cheaper to run: a 100 miles costs around £4-£10, depending on where you charge. The same in a petrol or diesel car will cost around £13-£16 in fuel.
  • Free parking for electric vehicles is available in some towns and cities.
  • EVs costing under £40,000 have a zero rate of Vehicle Excise Duty.
  • The lower or zero emissions of EVs means that they have lower charges in Clean Air Zones being implemented around the UK.

Charging an electric vehicle

Although the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is often higher, EVs can be cheaper to run, due to the lower cost of electricity compared to petrol or diesel.

To charge an electric car, you'll need to plug it into a charging point. In the UK there are four main places you can find these; at home, at work, at public locations and at service stations. You'll sometimes need to take your own separate charging cable with you.

For more information about electric vehicle charging points and to suggest a location, please visit our electric vehicle charging points page.

More information is available from the Energy Saving Trust.

Buying an electric vehicle

There are a number of government grant available for both the purchase of an electric vehicle and home EV chargepoint. These grants reduce the upfront cost of going electric and the reductions are automatically applied when you purchase a qualifying product.

More information on these scheme can be found below:

Plug-in Vehicle Grant Scheme

Home Chargepoint Grant Scheme

The British are the most active flyers in the world, with every 1 in 12 international passenger being British. At the same time aviation has been one of the fastest growing emitters of carbon worldwide. Even though the travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in an abrupt drop in air mileage in 2020, the international trend over the last years is still very concerning. In the UK international aviation created 37 MtCO2e in 2018.

Choosing not to fly abroad, but travel to a destination closer to home using an alternative mode of transportation will therefore always save a considerable amount of carbon. For many people it will be one of the most effective ways to reduce their carbon footprint.


In the UK, only a minority are taking the majority of flights: only half of adults in the UK have actually taken a flight in the last two years. So it is quite possible not to fly, even if you live in the UK. So what could you do instead?

  • British StaycationWith international travel being restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic, many UK residents turned to UK destinations for their holidays. Visit Britain is a UK Government supported campaign to promote holiday destinations in the UK.
  • Alternative modes of transport -
    • The train is the most environmentally friendly alternative to flying. Train fares can be expensive but booking early, outside the peak season and investing in a railcard can help save money on tickets.
    • Especially cost effective alternatives to flying are buses. There are a number of long-distance but routes available in the UK (and to Europe holiday destinations), which are often cheaper than other ways to travel
    • For your short-haul trips, even the car can be a less carbon intensive alternative to flying. Especially if the car is driven efficiently (little stop and go traffic, consistent and not too high speeds, fully occupied with passengers) it can save more than 25% of emissions, compared to a flight.