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Climate science shows that in order to halt or slow climate change, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must stop. ‘Net zero’ means that any emissions are balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere. Transport accounts for around one-quarter of global carbon emissions from energy. In richer countries like the UK with populations that travel often, transport can be one of the largest segments of an individual’s carbon footprint.

Transition Bath – following the principles of the Transition Network – believes local transport policies and plans should commit to a target of zero carbon in response to the worsening climate emergency. We also want to take into account that the climate crisis is impacting less advantaged people more and posing an irreversible threat to the ecological systems upon which human life depends.

Sustainable Travel Hierarchy

The sustainable travel hierarchy is a useful tool to help you think about improving the impact of your journeys. In order to reduce their carbon footprint, everyone needs to do what they can to move up the sustainable travel hierarchy, The higher up the hierarchy, the more sustainable and greener the travel option. Note that some scientific research concludes that cycling has a lower carbon footprint than walking, or a similar footprint.

The travel hierarchy is as follows, ranging from most sustainable to least sustainable:–

  • Digital communication
  • Walking and wheeling
  • Cycling
  • Public and shared transport
  • Electric vehicles and car sharing
  • Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles and car sharing
  • Air

Furthermore, as its population increases, Bath and its surrounding areas cannot sustain existing modes of low-capacity transport without considerable effect on air pollution and congestion. Overall this means we need to make more use of our transport highways by more sustainable modes of transport.

How to support change

Transition Bath believes that any changes to our transport system and the way in which we use it needs to encompass the following:

Fairness and safety

We need to ensure that any change in our transport system will benefit public health and result in better outcomes for people who are disadvantaged by the current system – this includes those on lower incomes and differently abled people, and those who feel unsafe, such as walkers and cyclists.


We need to understand the impact that the transition needed could have on people’s lives and the fear this generates. Changes such as the use of bus lanes, having restricted parking on streets where people might have been used to parking, or having to walk or cycle short journeys rather than use a car are all examples of likely transitions. We believe we all need to listen to and be respectful of concerns and different viewpoints.

Involving our community

A recent Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) report found that over 80% of people are worried about climate change. This group of people is likely to support good decisions based on the facts and to accept necessary changes, even if inconvenient, as long as these are fully explained and people feel they have been heard. We want to ensure Bath remains a great place to live, work, study and visit.

Good process

This is important to uphold because a transport system is a complex one, with different modes of transport contributing to the overall system. There are also wider issues, such as housing location and whether housing sites include good public transport and cycle routes, or discourage excessive car ownership by restricting car parking spaces. To avoid unintended consequences for the delivery of sustainable transport, policies must be considered and developed holistically.