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Why active travel must be part of Scotland’s journey to net zero



If every journey under three miles in Scotland in 2019 was made by active travel, this would save around a quarter (23-28%) of carbon emissions from cars, research by Sustrans has found.

This excludes emergency vehicles and cars owned by people living with disabilities.

In 2019, over a third (40%) of trips under three miles in Scotland were made using a car or van.

Relying on cars for getting around poses a big problem, especially as Scotland has set itself an ambitious target of reaching net zero emissions by 2045.

For years, emissions from transport, especially cars, have persistently remained at alarmingly high levels, making domestic transport the single largest source of emissions in the country.

But what if we transform the way we travel and reduce our reliance on motor vehicles?


Making a positive, real life impact across Scotland’s communities

In the fight against climate change, active travel plays a small yet fundamentally important role.

In fact, there’s no net-zero without it.

Our modelling work suggests that swapping just 40% of car journeys under three miles to active travel would have reduced 2019 carbon emissions from cars by nearly 10%.

Plus, when compared to many other mitigation options, switching from cars to walking, wheeling and cycling, combined with public transport, stands out as a cost-effective and quick solution.

Investing in walking, wheeling and cycling has already had a profound impact on local communities in Scotland.

Earlier this year, we celebrated the opening of a new off-road, shared-use path between the county town of Peebles and the satellite village of Eddleston in the Scottish Borders. 

The project was made possible by more than £2 million of funding from the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone programme and South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).

The path, which is just under four-miles long, connects communities, businesses and key services like never before, giving local people the choice to leave the car at home for everyday journeys.

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