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Doing Our Bit

Economy > Transport

An effective transport system is vital for a successful society and economy, and a good quality of life. However, the growth of transport is widely believed to have damaging effects on our environment, and in particular the atmosphere. Pollutants that are emitted from motor vehicles can lead to human health problems, poor air quality, acid rain and global warming. Some people also believe that the noise of traffic is a form of pollution.

Congestion from road traffic has been estimated to cost developed economies many billions of pounds. No large city seems to have escaped peak period congestion. It is a problem in countries with generous road systems and low resident densities like the United States, as well as in countries like Turkey and Poland, with relatively low levels of car ownership, but poor road infrastructure. Rising volumes of road traffic and increased congestion have caused a decrease in the efficiency of delivery services that depend on transport, and a subsequent increase in transportation costs due to increased journey times.

To maintain the standard of transport that is required for society and the economy to function efficiently without placing too much pressure on the environment, it is necessary for governments to devise a policy that will take these factors into account. This can be done through a sustainable and integrated transport policy. "Sustainable" in this context means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In the Sustainable Development Strategy for the UK, the government has acknowledged that it will need to take action to control the rate of traffic growth, improve the performance of vehicles and initiate public awareness about the environmental impacts of polluting emissions from transport. People need to be encouraged to reduce their dependency on cars, but affordable alternatives must be available to allow them to do this.

Sustainable transport policies will involve more than traffic reduction. New technology is required to increase vehicle efficiency and investment in other modes of transport, for example public transport. Cycling and walking incentives will be needed to encourage people to leave their cars behind.