Investigating the link between carbon dioxide emissions and transport-related social exclusion in rural Northern Ireland

Abstract

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is considered the most harmful of the greenhouse gases. Despite policy efforts, transport is the only sector experiencing an increase in the level of CO2 emissions and thereby possesses a major threat to sustainable development. In contrast, a reduced level of mobility has been associated with an increasing risk of being socially excluded. However, despite being the two key elements in transport policy, little effort has so far been made to investigate the links between CO2 emissions and social exclusion. This research contributes to this gap by analysing data from 157 weekly activity-travel diaries collected in rural Northern Ireland. CO2 emission levels were calculated using average speed models for different modes of transport. Regression analyses were then conducted to identify the socio-spatial patterns associated with these CO2 emissions, mode choice behaviour, and patterns of participation in activities. This research found that despite emitting a higher level of CO2, groups in rural areas possess the risk of being socially excluded due to their higher levels of mobility.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    For instance, the 2012 National Travel Survey data show that 45 % households in London (or 20 % in small/medium towns) have no car, whereas this is only 9 % in rural areas. 52 % of the households in rural areas own two or more cars in comparison with 16 % in London (or 34 % in small/medium towns). In addition, although both urban and rural households made almost an equal number of trips (983 per person per year), 78 % of the trips were made by using the car in rural areas compared to 40 % in London (or 66 % in small/medium towns) and also the average journey length is much higher in rural areas (9.7 miles in rural areas versus 4.6 miles in London (or 7.2 miles in small/medium towns).

  2. 2.

    Urban < 40 km/h, 40 km/h ≤ rural < 77 km/h, motorway > 77 km/h. These standards were also found to be consistent with the speed limit proposed in the different types of road networks in Northern Ireland.

  3. 3.

    This occupancy figure was calculated for the survey period. In 2009–2010, 41.9 million passenger journeys were made using the Ulsterbus services. Total bus-kilometres figure stood at 58.1 million. The Northern Ireland Travel Survey data show that the average journey length using the Ulsterbus services is 13.4 km (8.3 miles). Therefore, the calculated passenger-kilometres for this period is 578.22 million (41.9 × 13.4). Bus occupancy = 10 (i.e. passenger-km/bus-km).

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Acknowledgments

We acknowledge and cordially thank the Editor-in-Chief and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and insightful suggestions, which helped us to improve the manuscript.

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Kamruzzaman, M., Hine, J. & Yigitcanlar, T. Investigating the link between carbon dioxide emissions and transport-related social exclusion in rural Northern Ireland. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 12, 3463–3478 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-015-0771-8

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Keywords

  • Activity participation
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
  • Northern Ireland
  • Sustainable transport
  • Sustainable development
  • Transport disadvantage
  • Travel behaviour