Welcome to the blog of the course and textbook Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sharing is caring

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We all know that using public transport is more environmentally friendly than driving your own car alone, but it is also often more costly, time-consuming and inconvenient. So to make life easier, but still make a difference, we should share; share the car, and share the journey.
Public transport options are vastly more environmentally friendly than private transport options. But if we simply share the journey, then emissions are similar to public transport:

·         Car (medium-sized) with driver and two passengers (40g CO2/passenger km)
·         Car (medium-sized) with driver and single passenger (60g CO2/passenger km)
·         Taxi (medium-sized) with two passengers (80g CO2/passenger km)
So with simply adding a passenger or two to our car/taxi journey we can greatly reduce the carbon footprint per passenger, even sometimes surpassing public transport options.
The idea of carpooling for the daily commute has been around in popularity since the 1970s but popularity faded over the years due to the fall in gas prices, lack of flexibility in routes/times, and lack of reliability among participants. However nowadays it seems to be making somewhat of a comeback, facilitated by the internet and mobile phones.
Dynamic carpooling takes advantage of smartphones` GPS to determine the route, match up drivers and passengers and use social networking for establishing trust and accountability. A number of popular websites exist globally and in Ireland to enable the success of dynamic carpooling: carpooling.ie, zimride.com, erideshare.com.
But instead of sharing just the journey, how about going one step further, and also sharing the car itself? Sounds crazy, right? Well we`ve all been doing this for years already, whenever we go on a holiday abroad and hire a rental car. Only this time, we hire the car for our commute/shopping trip/weekend away.
By paying a nominal annual fee and then per-mile rates, 24/7 access is granted to a fleet of cars parked in various spots all over a city. The beauty of the scheme enables customers to only pay when they actually use their vehicle; no insurance, VRT, road tax, NCT are payable by the customer. In fact, privately owned vehicles tend to only have a 5-10% utilization rate anyway, so why would you pay so many extra charges to only rarely use your car?
In addition, not owning a car might make us actually consider our transport choices and choose the most efficient means available. We could end up walking, cycling or taking the environmentally friendly public transport options if they are accessible to us, and only resort to the use of a shared car when we absolutely need to, thus reducing costs and CO2 emissions further.
Some of the more popular carsharing companies include gocar.ie and zipcar.com. Customer feedback indicates that up to 15 privately owned vehicles are taken off the road per shared vehicle, either when customers decide against purchasing cars in the first place, or from selling their car. This amounts to a substantial saving in the CO2 emissions that arise from the production of motor vehicles in the first place (via sourcing of raw materials, or manufacturing).
Finally, whether we choose to carpool or carshare, the net result would be a decrease in cars on the road, thus reducing emissions, traffic congestion, and parking demand, allowing us to commute cheaper, greener, quicker and more stressfree
In the end, we all have choices to make that will affect our wallets, but also the planet we live on. So if we truly want to start thinking and acting in a more sustainable manner, choosing to share is one way of showing we care.
COLM DUFFY

1 comment:

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