Transport currently accounts for almost a third (30%) of the world’s total energy use and around a quarter of the global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions[1]. With climate change high on the news agenda and more consumers than ever making a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint, there is no bigger industry that is impacted by this than the travel and motor sector.

As part of our Environmental Innovations series, which looks at how British businesses and consumers are adapting to become more environmentally friendly, innovation specialist MPA looks at the biggest factors that are overhauling the industry.

The rise of electric cars

Research conducted by MPA through YouGov Profiles found that almost two thirds (65%) of Brits agreed that we should drive less to save the environment. But with 31.8 million cars on the UK’s roads[2], a car-less society seems a very distant memory. One of the most environmentally friendly alternatives is electric cars, which create less greenhouse gas and other emissions than cars powered solely by internal combustion engines. It seems the British public agrees, with the research finding that 69% agree that electric cars are the future of the motor industry.

2018 saw 59,945 sales of electric cars in the UK, a record year according to the SMMT, suggesting that alternative drives are a trend that is set to continue. With an increase in consumer demand, manufacturers will have to innovate in order to keep up. One such company is The Nextrode Project, who are working with the University of Warwick to ‘revolutionise the way electrodes for Li-ion EV batteries are manufactured’[3].

Sustainable air travel

Air travel is a huge industry, but unfortunately is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. With the research finding that 46% of respondents are likely to book a flight within the next 12 months, travel companies need to ensure they are conscious of their carbon footprint. Researching into sustainable fuel alternatives is one way that companies can play a part. British Airways is the latest company to announce plans to invest in this, announcing its initiative to transform household waste into jet fuel for its aircrafts[4]. The project which will be based in Lincolnshire and is set to produce the alternative fuel from 2024. The use of alternative fuels may well be the biggest factor in the industry’s impact on the environment, as a flight completely powered by sustainable fuel has the potential to reduce the carbon emissions of that flight by up to 80%.

Embracing technology

Technology is also set to be a major contributor in the motor industry’s move to become more environmentally – particularly 5G becoming a part of mainstream life. One in seven (13%) of respondents believe that 5G will be most useful for connected cars and transport, from remote car control to driverless cars. Ericsson is one of the companies using this technological revolution to create a more sustainable business model, as it announced its use of 5G to enhance its sustainable transport system[5].

John Lowndes, Director at MPA said: “The travel and motor sector is one of the industries that has seen the most consumer backlash from the increase in public interest in eliminating climate change, so it is great to see that so many businesses are already investing in innovative ways to be more sustainable. Factors such an increased customer demand for electric cars and more sustainable air travel will definitely help in offsetting carbon footprints and will help the nation in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.”