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Describe about environmental impact of the transport system?




Sustainable development refers to the development practices which aim at optimum utilization of the available natural resources in such a way that the interest of the future generation is taken into consideration before meeting the needs of the present generation. Over the years development has taken place over the entire global economy. This had led to the advent of various technologies which had made the daily life of man easy. The growth of population is also appalling. All these factors are providing a necessary threat to the environmental conditions. It is the urge to create a better social, economic environment quality that every economy nowadays shows key interest towards sustainable development. Sustainable development is considered to be a way of improving the living standard of individual and also enhancing the quality of environment. So efforts are made all over the world in order to obtain development in a sustainable manner (Elliott, 2002).

Environmental Impact of The Transport System

Transport system is one of the most important systems for every economy. Every economy always tries to create a well developed transport system for the benefit of the general population. Transport system of every economy is one such sector which accounts for major usage of energy and make use of major portion of the world’s petroleum reserves. Burning of petroleum in the vehicles leads to the generation of various harmful gases which are a major source of global warming.Taking into consideration of the negative impact on environmentsuccessful implementation of procedures to mitigate such problems should also be adopted (Hargroves and Smith, 2005).

In this study analysis will be made on sustainability of the transport sector by making a close reference to the transport sector of London.

Transport System of London

Thetransport system of London is substantially developed with the help of both the public and the private services. It has a well developed transport system which is connected with the major cities across the globe through roads, rail and air.

Though transport forms an important part of the London economy but the environmental effects caused by the transport sector cannot be ignored. The transport system can impose the following threats on the environmental conditions (Jedlička, Dostál and Adamec, 2011).

  • Transport sector are highly dependent on fossil fuels. It also leads to huge emission of carbon dioxide which is one of the major ingredients of global warming. Global warming leads to climate change which has an effect on the human life and the biodiversity and economic conditions. Round about 21% of the carbon dioxide emission in London comes from the transport sector. If no step is taken to check the emission of such gases it will lead to an average increase in the global temperature around 4.8 Celsius (Gifford, 2004).

  • Transport sector not only is a source of air pollution but it also leads to noise pollution. Destruction in the forest cover and farm lands has also taken place due to the increase in travel demands in London.

These are some of the after effects of the transport sector which is faced by every economy. But how far London has been able to tackle the problem and promoted sustainable development in the transport sector is the question that needs to be answered (Banister, 2005).


Sustainable Development of The Transport Sector In London

Emission of the green house gases and the air pollutantsby the transport system is one among the major challenges that is being faced by London. Based on the Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism report, 2008 the European Environment Agency came to the conclusion that keeping in view the environmental effects of transport system, transport development will face a setback but emission of the green house gas will continue to persist (Patterson, 1975).

The Mayor of London in the Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy decided that by 2025 it will make a reduction of carbon dioxide emission in all the sectors to60% from its level during 1990. In order to achieve this target the carbon dioxide emission in the transport sector must reduce by 4.6-5.3Mt (Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006).

By 2017-2018 London has set a target to achieve about 40% reduction in the total nitrogen oxide emission and 50% reduction in the emission of particulate matter with a size of 10 micrometer (PM10).This target has to be achieved by all the vehicles that provide public transport services.

Buses are a major source of nitrogen oxide emission (Morse, 2008). The London city has take steps by replacing such older buses with new ones which would befriendlier to the environmental.

The population of London is found to exhibit an increasing trend. This would imply increase demand for transport (Mayor and Bindé, 2001). But the city should always keep in its mind to put a check on the emission. London has taken up various sustainable steps in order to improve the environment condition which ultimately has a positive impact on the human life and biodiversity. Some important steps undertaken includes,

  • Encouraging citizens to walk. For them city ensures to develop the pavements.

  • Carrying out freight practices in an environmentally friendly way

  • Introduction of clean energy buses. Cleaning of buses are done in the following way

  • Installing particulate filters

  • An equipment to be fitted to buses which will help to reduce the release of nitrogen dioxide (Cox, 2010).

  • Trials have also been made by introducing hydrogen and electric buses.

  • Using regenerative brake in railway in order to save electricity by 25%

  • Encourage employers to use two wheelers while going for work (Nilsson, 2012).

  • Launching of the Mayor Cycle Vision which aims to promote and improve the cycle infrastructure.

  • For creating sustainable travel system usage of care clubs in low emission vehicle has to be increased (Buchari, 2009).

  • The low emission zone was created in London in 2008 in order to manage the emission of mini buses and large vans and also to subsequently reduce the emission of buses and coaches in 2012.

  • To reduce particulate matter significantly London set up an ultra low sulphur diesel in Thames Clipper and a particulate filtrate in Great Western Main Line (Singh, 2006).

Some of the achievements that London had in its transport sector include the following.

  • Fitting of particulate filters in more than 100 buses.

  • Promoting afforestation in the areas where the air has high PM10 content.

  • A dustsuppressant to be set up for trial in some popular hotspot area (Lumsdon, 2000).

  • Targeting around 300 businesses in major locations and discouraging them from travelling and delivering.

  • Creating education campaign to discourage people from keeping engine idle.

  • Development of new rail and underground infrastructure is initiated.

Future goals that need to be fulfilled include,

  • Better management and regulation of traffic.

  • Creating an ultra low emission zone.

  • Helping the people of London to tackle air pollution.

  • Providing for environment friendly electricity for the London transport system.

  • Individuals should make use of low emission vehicle.

Proposal to Create Ultra Low Emission Zone

It has been decided to set up an ultra economic emission zone (ULEZ) in central London. It is thought to come into effect from 2020. This ultra low emission zone will be responsible for encouraging road users to opt for low emission vehicles, increase the number of double decker buses and single decker low pollutant emitting buses, review the licensing of taxis to reduce emission (Jaffeer, 2011).

Introduction of ULEZ is expected to reduce the nitrogen dioxide emission to around 51% by the end of 2020. It also will try to bring the emission of cars and buses zero.

London already had the existence of the Low Emission Zone. It is one of the largest zones and it covers a huge area (Sustainable Campus Charter, 2012).

All these steps taken by London help in the reduction of only air pollution that is created due to the transport sector. The other categories of pollution that is being created also need to be considered (Baker, 2006).

Noise pollution is also a major issue in London which is contributed by the transport sector. Noise refers to any sound which is jarring to the ears. The effect of noise cannot be noticed in a day. Individuals exposed to noisy environment are found to suffer from psychological problems.It is found that road traffic in London is one of the main cause of noise pollution. The noise created by transport disrupts the sleep of the citizen. Improper sleep effects the concentration of the citizen at work place which ultimately leads to lower productivity.A normal sound range of 60-70 decibel is appropriate for human ear. But it is exposed to the noise caused by transport of the following decibel range (Transport, the environment and sustainable development, 1993).

  • Busy street 78-85 db.

  • A lorry at a distance of 7m away produces a sound ranging from 95-100dB.

  • Sound produced by jet aircraft taking off at a distance of 25m around 140dB.

 But it is because of the technology development that such a problem is brought under control in London.  One step was taken to reduce the noise pollution when the vehicle moves on the road. This step involves covering of the road with a material that reduces the noise of the tyres moving on the road (Kojima and Johnson, 2006).

Attempts are also made for management of waste. A huge amount of debris are created at the transport construction order to take care of such waste London has adopted a very preliminary step which includes reducing the waste production during the construction of public transport. London also aims to recycle 70% of the newspaper, cans, plastic and cardboard of the tube stations. London transport system is also found to help in the city’s waste management. The Transport for London’s Freight Unit has developed the the Multi Modal Refuse Collection Vehicle (MMRCV) for the collection of municipal wastes (Springett, 2005).

The land undertake in London for the construction of highways, roads, bridges, rail lines helps in the development of the transport system. Such development has helped people to easily move around from one place to another, it has also helped in tackling the problem of road congestion and crowding up of the public transport. But transport development leads to coverage of huge land surfaces of the nation which has a negative impact on the forest covers areas. Decline in the forest covers badly affects the habitat of the wildlife (Kojima and Johnson, 2006). It has also led to the extinction of various species. Fall in the forest cover can also lead to the accumulation of the green house gases thereby leading to global warming and climate change. In order to protect them the country should set up Biodiversity Park and sanctuaries which offers a protective shelter to them. Tube system of transport which refers to the setting of underground tunnel acts as a blessing for the wildlife. London has decided to adopt more sustainable way of developing the transport system by taking into consideration the effect on biodiversity before undertaking any transport construction project (Nilsson, 2012).



Transport forms an important part of the daily life of citizens of every nation. The government focus always remains to make more and more development in the transport system for the benefit of the society. Making such investment doesn’t fetch much benefit to the government of a nation but such investments are always initiated for the benefit of the general public. In the advent of increasing the welfare the government often forgets to take account of the environmental threats that transport sector leads to. Considering the above study it can be said that London has made significant progress in controlling the environment pollution that is caused by the transport sector. It poses an example for the other nation also. Among the many other nations of the European Union London is one of them which helps it to achieve the target of reducing 60% of its emission by 2030.


Transport sector in a developed nation is such sector that plays a key role in achieving sustainable growth. One of the fundamental aim of a nation should to undertake such transport policies which help them to tackle with the problem of climate change. From the analysis that is being made above it can be said that the transport sector of London is not only well developed but it is also sustainably developed. Various steps had already been taken for improving sustainability in the transport sector. But there is always a scope for further improvement.

The policies that is to be undertaken should be more focused on the improving the travelling facilities of the citizen in a sustained way from the point they leave their home to the point of their final destination. The government should also aim to develop the transport system in a way that it has a positive effect on the health conditions of the citizens. The streets should be made more attractive for the citizens alluring them to walk and use cycle for travelling. This would reduce instances of obesity, occurrence of any heart disease, mental depression, and type-2 diabetes.

The government should make more attempts to improve the quality of air. The availability of battery operated taxi, bus should be increased. The trucks should be fitted with air filters and technology needs to be developed so that the air and noise pollution created by them can be controlled. Controlling the air pollutants created by the transport sector helps to improve cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

The country should make use of technology to have a control of the traffic situation. It not only implies better management of the vehicles but also protecting the road collisions and accidents.

The nation’s authority has taken various steps but along with him it is also the responsibility general citizen to contribute towards sustainable development. It is known by almost everyone that natural resources are non-renewable. This means that once they are used up they are extinct forever. The rate at which the resources are being depleted is far more than the rate at which the resources are being formed. It is predicted that a time may come that the natural resources exist no more for the future generation. In order to prevent the occurrence of such a situation the government should increase the use of bio fuels. Individuals should also understand the necessity of conserving resources. They can do so by making more use of public transport as a means of communication. Government of London should hire for awareness camp to make the citizens aware of the necessity to conserve fuel. It has already been mentioned that the government has taken initiative for creating campaign with an aim to discourage the practice of engine idle. But the government should make the norms stricter by charging fine for individuals who keep their vehicles ideal.

So it is not only the responsibility of the government but that of the citizen to create a sustainable environment.



Baker, S. (2006). Sustainable development. London: Routledge.

Banister, D. (2005). Unsustainable transport. London: Routledge.

Buchari, E. (2009). A multimodal public transport planning guidance for sustainable transport in developing countries. International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, 8(3/4), p.263.

Cox, P. (2010). Moving people. London: Zed Books.

Cullingworth, J. and Nadin, V. (2006). Town and country planning in the UK. London: Routledge.

Elliott, J. (2002). An introduction to sustainable development. London: Routledge.

Gifford, C. (2004). Sustainable development. Oxford: Heinemann Library.

Hargroves, K. and Smith, M. (2005). The natural advantage of nations. London: Earthscan.

Jaffeer, R. (2011). Environmental Performance and Sustainable Development. Journal of Sustainable Development, 4(6).

Jedlička, J., Dostál, I. and Adamec, V. (2011). Sustainable Development and Transport. Transactions on Transport Sciences, 4(3).

Kojima, M. and Johnson, T. (2006). Biofuels for transport in developing countries: socioeconomic considerations. Energy for Sustainable Development, 10(2), pp.59-66.

Lumsdon, L. (2000). Transport and Tourism: Cycle Tourism – A Model for Sustainable Development?.Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 8(5), pp.361-377.

Mayor, F. and Bindé, J. (2001). The world ahead. London: Zed Books.

Morse, S. (2008). Post-sustainable development. Sust. Dev., 16(5), pp.341-352.

Nilsson, M. (2012). Paving the road to sustainable transport. London: Routledge.

Patterson, W. (1975). London Report: Food Energy. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 17(8), pp.4-5.

Singh, M. (2006). Economics of biofuels for the transport sector in South Africa. Energy for Sustainable Development, 10(2), pp.40-47.

Springett, D. (2005). Critical perspectives on sustainable development. Sust. Dev., 13(4), pp.209-211.

Sustainable Campus Charter. (2012). Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 6(1), pp.164-164.

Transport, the environment and sustainable development. (1993). Futures, 25(7), pp.823-824.

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