background image

Low Carbon Rush HourPrint

Date & time: 4 July 2011

Research commissioned by EDF Energy reveals commuters in Greater London release the lowest rush-hour carbon emissions in the UK at 1.35 kg CO2 per person per day.

From the findings of the report, compiled by Imperial College London on behalf of EDF Energy, it is estimated that the overall rush hour carbon output across the UK is 32.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year - equivalent to the carbon emissions produced flying 16,750,264 people from London to Sydney2.

As the first sustainability partner of London 2012, EDF Energy commissioned the study to make people think about how they can reduce the carbon footprint of their daily travel ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Road transport makes up around a quarter (24%) of the UK's carbon emissions, presenting a huge opportunity to reduce the country's carbon footprint from daily travel3.

According to the report, those in the North East have the second lowest carbon rush hour at 1.75kg CO2 per person per day.  The commuters with the greatest potential for improvement in rush-hour carbon emissions was in the Eastern region (2.51kg CO2 per person per day), the East Midlands (2.50kg CO2 per person per day) and the South West (2.45kg CO2 per person per day). 

Transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, and commuter and business travel constitute nearly 40% of all miles driven by car4 so lowering the carbon footprint of work related travel could make a powerful contribution to reducing the UK's overall carbon footprint.

Professor Nigel Brandon, Imperial College London said: "The research, commissioned by EDF Energy, indicates that rush hour travel in Greater London has a comparatively lower carbon footprint, which is likely to be down to a greater use of public transport, walking and cycling in the capital.  Whilst not all UK cities have the public transport links which London benefits from, emulating the large number of those who are walking and cycling to work in the capital could help other cities achieve a lower carbon rush hour".

The goal of achieving a lower carbon rush hour is supported by a number of leading British Olympic and Paralympic athletes who are ambassadors for Team Green Britain, a community founded by EDF Energy, Britain's largest producer of low carbon electricity,  to help people work together to tackle climate change.

Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton and Paralympic Olympic champion swimmer Ellie Simmonds have been promoting cycling as a low carbon form of travel in Manchester and Swansea respectively. Sprint kayak gold medallist Tim Brabants donned a business suit to canoe in Teddington, London in a bid to make people think about how they might change the way they commute.

Tim, who is taking a break from his career as a doctor to train for London 2012 said: "As a Team Green Britain ambassador I hope to help make people realise that lower carbon forms of transport can have multiple benefits. As well as being better for the environment, running or cycling can be cheaper, more enjoyable ways to get to work, and can help improve your fitness too. They are often very practical ways to travel and can sometimes even help you keep moving when others can't get about. When I was working at the hospital in Nottingham I used to cycle my commute and in a period of heavy snow I was actually one of the few doctors to make it in."

Gareth Wynn, Director of EDF's London 2012 programme, adds: "It's great that our Team Green Britain athlete ambassadors are supporting our call for people to think about the carbon footprint of their everyday travel. As the first sustainability partner of London 2012, EDF Energy is aiming to use its involvement with the Games to encourage people to live in a more environmentally friendly way. We're hoping to encourage people to make changes in to the way they travel in the long term, helping to contribute to a positive legacy of sustainability for London 2012".

In June 2010 EDF Energy made a commitment to reduce the CO2 emissions of company travel by 20% by 2012.  The company has put in place a number of initiatives to help staff reduce the carbon footprint of their travel to and from work5. 

Those looking for other ideas to help them save energy and money can visit

Founded by EDF Energy in 2009, Team Green Britain is now comprised of over one million members. Team Green Britain encourages its members to take action to be more environmentally friendly in three lifestyle areas, home, food and travel, which together make up more than 60% of the average UK resident's carbon footprint6. By following the advice from Team Green Britain, people can reduce their home energy consumption by up to 20% and make a potential saving of up to £166 in doing so7.

Research carried out by Imperial College London:

The results presented were researched in June 2011 and were calculated using the UK National Travel Survey. This data set is used to monitor long-term changes in travel patterns and differences in travel patterns within the population. It consists of questionnaires at the individual and household level (capturing demographic information, location of nearest facilities, vehicle types, and so on), as well as a detailed travel diary kept over one week. During the survey period, respondents record information about each trip such as its start and end time, distance, main purpose, transport mode used, and other data. A trip is defined as "a one-way course of travel having a single main purpose, e.g. a walk to school or a trip to work without any break in travel".  To estimate the carbon dioxide emissions of each mode, combined information about the tax band of each private vehicle, as well as representative data on the carbon emissions of public transport were used.   The full report is available on request.

The results presented were researched in June 2011 and were calculated using the UK National Travel Survey. To estimate the carbon dioxide emissions of each mode, combined information about the tax band of each private vehicle, as well as representative data on the carbon emissions of public transport were used.

  1. Figures was calculated using the average rush hour carbon emissions output per person from the Imperial College London report, multiplied using formula taken from DEFRA GHG figures document:
  2. DECC - (page 4)
  3. Department for transport:
  4. At the company offices in Exeter, for example, a travel plan, implemented by a dedicated Green Travel Manager, offers benefits and incentives for walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport.  This approach has proven to be very successful; reducing the use of single occupancy vehicles accessing the offices from 83% in 2001 to just 38% in 2010 despite a growth on site from 550 staff in 2001 to 1,579 at present.
  5. Source: Act on CO2/Carbon Trust.
  6. Based on a typical EDF Energy customer with typical energy consumption, supplied on our standard tariffs, who reduces their household's annual energy consumption by 20% through energy saving measures. 'Typical energy consumption' means an energy consumption of 3,300 kWh of electricity and 16,500 kWh of gas each year.
  7. Across all EDF Energy sites staff are encouraged to reduce the need to travel for business through web conferencing, tele and video conferencing, promoting public transport and car sharing where journeys need to be made. Employees are also invited to apply for discounts on bicycles via a 'Bike4Work' scheme. Electric vehicle charging points have been installed at many of the company's sites including the company headquarters in London, offices in Hove and at the Heysham 2 power station in Lancashire.