Environmental issues have become one of the emotive topics in the whole world. There is increased environmental degradation across the globe and a lot of international conferences are being held to discuss the issue, but what is shocking is that no significant change is being realized. This is partly because the world fears taking the responsibility for their actions and there have been increased blame game, especially among the developed countries, which are the most polluters, due to selfish interest. One such country that has experienced increased environmental degradation is the United Kingdom, especially London city. According to London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP) (2002), the main cause of environmental pollution in London is its transport system, which is the main source of greenhouse emission in the city and its environs.
The report focuses on the environmental friendly and sustainable transport systems in London. Issues to be covered in this work include the impact of current transport systems on the environment of London and its people, how to reduce the impact of environmental pollution, and how to implement renewable energy systems in the new transport systems. In addition, the work will cover new transport systems which are environmentally friendly. This report, therefore, aims at providing enough information, which will help in in replacing the current transport systems with the new environmentally friendly transport systems in London.
Impact of Current Transport Systems on Environment
The world’s number one polluter is a transport system since it is the major consumer of the petroleum products in the world. One of the way the system pollutes the environment is through greenhouse emissions of gases, which leads to global warming. Some of the gases emitted by the locomotives are nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide gases, which reacts with air, causing excess carbon dioxide in the air which leads to global warming. Nitrogen oxide gas also reacts with moisture in the air leading to acid rains which are very corrosive (Bows et al, 2006). The current transport system in London has led to a lot of negative impacts on the environment like increased temperatures, acid rains, rise in sea levels, floods and storms, which affects the lives of people living in London and the whole economy of the United kingdom.
One of the adverse impact of the current transport system in London is global warming (“LCC”, 2002). Global warming is caused by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the environment. Research has shown that road transport is the main contributor of global warming due to the emission of excess of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. Some of the results of global warming include a rise in sea level and increased storm, which the country is experiencing now (“LBC”, 2003).
Another impact of transport system in the environment is noise pollution. This majorly come from big trucks, airplanes and trains. Most of these trains and aircraft stations are located near London city which negatively affect the lives of local people. Even though people may not be aware, noise pollution comes with health problems. People living and working in areas prone to noise have been noticed to be developing similar diseases (Akerman and Hojer, 2006). Research shows that noise pollution cause diseases like sleep disturbance, psychological problems and cardiovascular diseases. The high number of large vehicles, trains and airplanes in London affects the health of the people. This will end up affecting the economy as a whole. Therefore, the current transport systems in London affect the health of people living within and around the city.
London is also experiencing increased air pollution. Research from environmentalists show that the contributor to air pollution is road transport. Road transport locomotives harmful gases in the air like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, fine dust and soot, benzene and hydrocarbon gases which come with a lot of effects on the lives of many living in London and UK’s economy as a whole. It is estimated that about 12000-24000 people due of air pollution in the UK. One of the disease that has claimed the lives of many people in London due to air pollution is asthma. This disease is caused by nitrogen oxides and ozone gas, which come from locomotives. This also has a bearing on the economic performance since, according to the National Asthma Campaign, the government of the UK spends about £1 billion every year on asthma patients. Very many people are also being admitted in hospitals and government of UK estimates that between 14000-24000 people are being admitted in hospitals due to air pollution. The current transport systems cost the government and people of the UK their lives and money due to air pollution associated with it.
Another issue that is related to the transportation system is land take. It has been observed that transport systems tale a large chunk of land in in London. Road transport alone takes about of the total land available i9n the UK, which is about 2004km2, according to the Department of Transport. Heavy vehicles take about 150km2 of the total land. This show that the land available for other human activities has reduced. City occupants are therefore forced to concentrate on a small piece of land within the city, which compromises the space available for housing and other human activities leading to environmental degradation.
Prevention of the Impacts of Transport system Environmental Degradation
Governments all across the globe are doing all that they can reduce the impacts transport systems in environmental degradation. Determination to reduce the impacts should not only be aimed at reducing the impact, but they should be sustainable as well. Some of the steps that the London government should take to reduce the impacts include improving infrastructure, use of alternative fuels, use of public transport, use of electric vehicles, use of bicycles, and purchase of carbon offsets.
One of the areas that the government should concentrate on is the improvement of the existing infrastructure. Appropriate infrastructural development will be able to improve the capacity of other transport networks leading to efficiency and conservation of the environment. In order to ensure that the development is sustainable, the developers should do a proper impact assessment to ascertain that the infrastructural development is sustainable in the long run. The investment should focus on better railways, water transport, and public transport.
The main transport system polluter is road transport and therefore the government of London should concentrate on the construction of efficient and modern railway lines to replace road transport. Railway transport is more environmentally friendly compared to road transport and at the same time it will be able to connect other parts of the city adequately. In order to ensure that railway transport is sustainable, electric train should be used since they do not pollute the environment and at the same time they are faster.
Petroleum products contribute to a larger percentage of polluters. Therefore, finding alternative fuels will help in reducing the level of pollution caused by transport systems. Currently, there are a variety of fuels in the market that are environmentally friendly and the government should come up policies to ensure that the public uses those fuels in transport. Such environmentally friendly fuels include E-85, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and compressed natural gas. These fuels contain low content of carbon and, therefore, do not pollute the environment like the normal fuels.
One way of reducing congestion in the city is the reduction of the vehicles accessing the city. The majority of people in London prefer using their private vehicles when moving from one place to another. In the London city alone, there are about 26 million trips made a day by people when they are doing their business in the city. This figure shows that the city is congested with both human and traffic jams. However, government and city planners should come up with the strategy of making public transport attractive to the people. This can be achieved by making public transport attractive to the public. First, public transport should be accessible and a proper and efficient service made for the public. For instance, the mode of payment and inquiry should be through mobile phone in order to reduce congestion in the public transport parks. This strategy will reduce the impact of transport systems on the environment.
Government and local authorities should promote initiatives that enhance the use of a vehicle as a means of transport. This will reduce the impact of transport systems on the environment since vehicles do not use any fuel and therefore there will be reduction carbon dioxide emission in the environment. However, to achieve this, the government should develop and expand infrastructures which enable cyclist to easily move from one place to another. A separate paths and tunnels should be developed for cyclists to motivate them to use their vehicles when moving from one place to another.
Finally, the public should be made to transact their business online. With the current technology, there is no need for one to move to the city to do the shopping or transact a business that can easily be done online. This will reduce the number of people moving to the city, which will reduce the number of private vehicles accessing the city. A good infrastructure should be put in place to allow this online transaction to reduce the negative impacts of the transport system on the environment. This will result to another effect on health since bicycles a form of exercise and therefore cyclists will maintain physical fitness. This will reduce health problems leading to productive labor force.
Implementation of Renewable Energy Systems in the New Transport system
A new transport system is important to reduce environmental degradation that the country is witnessing today. However, this is only possible if a new set of renewable energy is put in place to reduce the use petroleum products in the current transportation system. Some of the renewable energy that should be considered are solar energy, wind energy, electric energy and biofuel energy (Banister and Hickman, 2006). Will ensure that London is free from the transport system environmental pollution, which will ensure that residents of the city are healthy and London economy is thriving.
The use of electricity in transport system has gained momentum and is viewed as one of the ways to keep the environment clean and also to save on fuel consumption since the volume of fuel is also reducing (Willowa and Connel, 2003). Therefore, the best way to save the economy and to save the environment is through the use of electricity in transport system. Some of the advantages associated with the electricity powered locomotives are that it leads to less pollution since there is no exhaust leading to less environmental pollution. Another advantage that it comes with is that the world London will not be depended on the oil prices to improve its economy. In addition, electricity provides a perfect way to harvest both solar and wind energy, which can further be used in other means of transport.
Currently, there are fully developed electric train and electric vehicles which can be used in the new transportation system. What need to be done by the concerned authorities is to put systems in place which makes it possible for people to use electric trains and vehicles. Since electric vehicle uses battery, many charging centers should be developed, which are easily accessible. This can also be enhanced through the use of the modern technology by developing a swap station where the batteries are charged using the modern technology. This will encourage more people to use the electric transport system in order to save the environment. Apart from reduction in environmental degradation, it will also lead to economic stability in London since it will not rely so much on oil, which always determine the market forces (“International Energy Agency”, 2006). The same should apply to other means of transport like a train.
Another new means of transport that is highly sustainable is the use of bicycle since it only requires the use of human energy which is renewable. However, this means of transport have been shunned by the majority since it is associated with lower class people (Cairns et al., 2004). But all is not lost since more people are now embracing the bicycle as their means of transport. What the government need to do is to put systems and structures in place to motivate and facilitate this healthy and clean means of transport.
First, exclusive lanes should be set aside for bicycles only to enable smooth movement of cyclists. At the same time, bicycle locking facilities should be set aside in a safe place where cyclists can leave their bicycles when engaging in other activities within the city. Finally, since one is more likely to sweat when biking, showers should be placed in the designated places in the city at workplaces to enable cyclists to freshen up. The use of the bicycle will be sustainable if all these facilities and infrastructure are put in place.
The current transport system contributes to environmental degradation that London and its people are experiencing today. The main source of energy used in the current transportation system oil, which is expensive and at the same time pollutes the environment. Despite heavy reliance on oil in the transportation system, there are cheaper and environmentally friendly alternatives, which are sustainable and will significantly reduce the level of environmental degradation. These alternatives are recommended below:
- Creation of an online platform. The new technology allows people to transact a lot of businesses online. Therefore, an online platform should be created to prevent people from driving to the city to access services, which do not need one to travel since they are available online.
- Make bicycle the most viable alternative to the current transportation system. It does not need to use any fuel and it makes the society physically fit. What needs to be done is only to put facilities and infrastructures in place to motivate and facilitate the use of bicycles.
It is clear that the current transportation system leads to environmental degradation. This has led to increased global warming, which comes with other environmental disasters like rise in sea level and increased storm in the city. Environmental degradation affects all the sectors of the economy, especially health sector. However, there are solution to environmental degradation that is caused by the current transport systems in London. What needs to be done to save the situation is the use of safe and healthy renewable energies like bio fuel and electricity. Therefore, in order to solve these environmental degradation associated with the current transportation system, ne transport systems must be put in place.