Environmental Impact of Long Commutes

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Environmental Impact of Long Commutes

Serena Chung
Project Officer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Private transport is one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, with emissions rising every year. In our car dominated cities, can we cut down the carbon footprint of our daily commute? Over 26% of total US greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector (2014). That’s about 1,786 million metric tons—roughly equivalent to the emissions from the entire country of Russia. Transportation (including commuting) is the country’s second biggest source of carbon emissions, after the electricity sector. Some research shows that in major metropolitan areas with heavy rush hour traffic, automobile emissions are actually still rising. How do our housing choices – and the distance we need to travel for work – contribute to the greater degradation of our environment?

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