Statistics: Transport Is the Largest Source of Emissions

By Hanieh Khakpour

23nd April 2022

(Photograph: Pixabay)

Transport accounts for the largest share of emissions production in Scotland.  Data shows that while people’s interest in using buses as the most popular form of public transportation is decreasing, their use of cars is increasing. 

Statistics published by Scottish Transport in March 2022 reveal that agriculture, business, energy supply, industrial processes, international Aviation and shipping, land use, land-use change and forestry, public, residential, transport, and waste management are all different categories producing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions in Scotland.  

Although there was a downtrend in GHG Emissions in the 1990s in Scotland, transportation was the largest producer of emissions. Scotland’s transport emissions-reducing from 13.3 in 2009 to 12 in 2019 was 2.2% lower than in 2018 and 6.3% lower than in 1990. Yet, newly registered cars in Scotland have become more efficient in terms of carbon dioxide recording a 10 per cent fall over the last ten years. However, the average CO2 emissions of cars has risen by 2% in each of the previous two years. 

It is worth mentioning that statistics for 2020 onwards are affected by the situation of COVID-19 and are not comparable to previous years.

Bus journeys: The first people’s choice in public transportation

Figures show 502 million public transport journeys recorded in 2019-20 in Scotland.  However, this number saw a sharp decrease to 153 million in the next year, as said before, it was due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among different types of public transport journeys including bus, rail, air and ferry, bus journeys were the most commonly used mode of transport and 4 out of 5 trips (83 per cent) were done by bus, approximately 127 million in 2020.

Although there was a fall in this trend over the recent decade since 2010, interest in using buses decreased. The most important reasons for this unwillingness have been declared “no need” and “using a personal car”.

Personal travel got popular

Using cars was the second people’s option for travelling to school and the first choice to go to work. Statistics showed in Scotland in 2020, there were 3.0 million motor vehicles licensed. Also, 81% of households had access to at least one car, and 1 out of 5 people (21 per cent) drove every day, and this trend is on the rise annually.

Support by the government to encourage people to use new vehicles with low emissions, such as receiving a grant of 25% towards the cost of the car, have partially worked as the number of these vehicles grew. For instance, the figure for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) reached 38,634 in 2020, accounting for 0.9% of vehicles licensed in Scotland, while it was 1,122 in 2014. Also, the number of Plug-in-Grant Eligible cars had a dramatic growth accounting for 54 per cent of newly registered ULEVS and 65 per cent of all ULEVs in 2020.

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