Carbon Footprint From Transportation


ransportation is a key industry in our society and it currently accounts for 34% of the UK’s carbon emission in 2019 and 28% in the US in 2018. Transportation remains the largest source of carbon emissions globally and the only sector where current emissions are greater than in 1990 Emission from road transport, domestic aviation, railways and domestic shipping accounts for the carbon emission from transportation. To limit global temperature, rise to 1.5 °C, anthropogenic net carbon emissions must approach zero by 2050. In 2018, 28% of net greenhouse gas emissions in the UK were estimated to be from the transport sector.

Transportation is essential for movement of people and goods but it has to be environmentally friendly. It is important for the freight industry to monitor their carbon footprint and offset it where possible. Offsetting is not a lasting solution but it is one of the many solution to decarbonising our transport system.

The embedded diagram is a simple process and system boundary for mapping carbon emissions in the transport industry.

Maritime + -

There are around 90,000 merchant ships in service globally which carry approximately 80% of global trade by volume. Aside the ships which makes about 85% of the vessels, there are other fleets used for different purposes such as passengers, services and goods transport. The International Maritime Organisation estimated that shipping emits 2.85% of annual global emissions of CO2 while transporting containers, bulky goods and crude oil internationally. A ship is expected to be operated for 30 years

Aviation + -

The aviation industry contributes 2.2% of carbon emission and about 4.9% of non-CO2 warming per annum. The non-CO2 warming is from increased emission of NOx which stimulates the ozone. With global aircraft expected to reach a maximum of 39,000 by 2030 this push the CO2 annual emission to 3.5%. Decarbonising the aviation fuel is one of the many ways to mitigate this effect. An aircraft has a lifespan of 25 years.


Haulage + -

Demand for haulage is an important parameter for measuring economic development. The haulage service is essential for goods cargo by road which requires fossil fuel hence contributing to about 7% of the annual carbon emission. The UK has set a goal for electric cars by 2030 and this is one of the ways to decarbonise the haulage services. The health implication of fossil fuelled haulage service is most damaging to human health because of the proximity.