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Weather delays commuters

1.4m commuters face more than three days of delays each month due to extreme weather

Almost half of commuters are already experiencing the impacts of severe weather every month, according to a new poll commissioned by WWF. The charity warns it’s is likely to get worse unless the UK government urgently takes steps to cut harmful transport emissions.

The survey found that nearly half of commuters across the UK face delayed journeys due to severe weather at least one day a month.

‘People often think of climate change as melting ice caps and distant droughts – problems far away, with effects a long time into the future. But in fact, its impacts are already happening much closer to home.’

WWF’s head of energy and climate policy

Green options ‘aren’t feasible’

With the transport industry accounting for nearly a quarter (24%) of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and around 11.3 million people travelling to and from work every day, this is a sector where emissions reduction must be considered if the UK is to meet its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and keep global temperature rises well below 2°.

Currently, 36% of commuters drive to work while only 3% cycle, 9% take the train and 11% walk. While the survey found that 59% of people would consider changing their commute to an option that was more environmentally friendly the challenge is that, for many, greener options aren’t seen as feasible.

When asked about what stops people commuting by train, one of the more environmentally friendly transport options, key barriers were revealed as cost (51%), unreliability (35%) and overcrowding (24%).

Government’s responsibility?

The poll also revealed that 85% of people think it’s the government’s responsibility to encourage commuters to take greener modes of transport.

47% of people want to see the government invest in green technology, 42% feel green transport should be made cheaper to encourage people to use it, 32% feel there needs to be a better partnership with transport network providers to drive green innovation and 32% want safer roads for people to be able to cycle.

‘Transport is a big cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, yet some of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel – public transport – are already suffering from the impacts of climate change. It is catch 22 as more extreme weather is putting transport infrastructure under ever greater pressure and making train travel less reliable and less appealing, just when we need people to get out of their cars.

‘It’s great that there’s the appetite for reducing our environmental impact when we commute, but government and transport providers need to work together to build resilience to offer people better alternatives to the most polluting forms of travel.’

WWF’s head of energy and climate policy

We’ve had the hottest year on record for three years running so it’s clear that the impact of climate change is only set to worsen – be that for commuters in the UK or for people, species and habitats around the world.

Click here for the Office of National Statistics’ breakdown of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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