Achieving Net-Zero With Connectivity

Introduction 

Transport emissions are just one piece of the puzzle on the path to Net-Zero, however, to hit this target focus needs to be turned to how the catastrophic emissions associated with transport can be reduced. In 2019, domestic transport alone was accountable for 122 million tons of carbon dioxide (megatons), indicating that transport was the greatest emitting sector of GHG emissions – producing 27% of the UK’s annual emissions. Due to reduced travel, there was a clear decrease in this number throughout the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020, averaging out at 17% less than the previous year’s daily figures. 

Fortunately, plans to use connectivity to try and continue this reduction going forward as the world returns to normal are now being implemented. Continue reading below to find out how. 

Reducing Emissions 

Improved connectivity has demonstrated it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions, particularly within the transport sector. This is being achieved in two ways; either by reducing the number of journeys made, or by reducing emissions for each journey.  

In the race to reduce emissions through better connectivity, we must look at the bigger picture of the use of electric and driverless vehicles. Due to advancements in safety, efficiency, and reliability, it is thought that driverless vehicles will accelerate a shift from vehicle ownership to the use of transportation as a service. For example, ordering shared rides in driverless electric vehicles opposed to owning and using vehicles.  

What are the benefits of this? 

  • A reduction in car manufacturing  
  • Fewer parking garages required 
  • Smaller parking lots 
  • Self-driving cars are electric, therefore reducing the use of fossil fuel 

Connectivity plays a key role both directly (traffic light flows for driverless cars) and indirectly. One indirect trend that is aiding in the reduction of emissions is remote working, which has increased drastically throughout the pandemic. On average, one office worker is responsible for 545kg of CO2e due to commuting to and from work, this is compared to just 4.3kg (99.4% less) of someone working online from home. 

The connectivity solution 

As we recover from the pandemic, technology is required to accelerate plans for a net-zero future. By ensuring the digital infrastructure in place can support connected and autonomous vehicles as well as improving the connectivity required on railways, low emission public transport could become more appealing to commuters.  

Working from home is now practiced permanently across the UK for many businesses, as discussed in our latest article. However, for this to be sustainable upgrades must be made to the current digital infrastructure. The areas most effected by the lack of connectivity is the UK’s most rural, and unfortunately this part of the population typically commutes the furthest. Improvements to connectivity within these areas would provide them with the same opportunity to work from home and therefore reduce their contribution to emissions. 

Placing a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite solution within rural communities would be a viable option to ensure anywhere in the UK can receive connectivity. This solution is the only technology capable of offering full global coverage, while providing high speed (100mbps), low latency (<30ms) internet. The alternative to this is to invest in upgrading or building new mobile masts, however construction can take years to finish. There is also the possibility of ongoing issues in areas with poor line of sight, such as valleys. 

Reducing Journey Emissions  

However, working from home can only reduce emissions by so much. People still rely on travelling to appointments, family engagements, amongst many other things. Therefore, there is a push, as mentioned previously to use connectivity to reduce the number of emissions per each journey. 

4G connectivity can improve experiences for commuters on low emission public transport, allowing them to stay connected throughout journeys. 4G which offers a high speed, low latency and resilient service can enable IoT and M2M connectivity. With a download speed of 150Mbps and upload speed of 50Mbps, 4G not only allows commuters to stay connected, but it can also make the travel experience and communication with other vehicles more efficient. 

 So far plans to reduce emissions per journey include: 

  • Improve public transport connectivity to persuade commuters to make the change (e.g access to Wi-Fi on board, apps, paperless tickets) 
  • Grants available to invest in Electric Vehicles opposed to those that are petroleum fuelled 
  • Investment in EV charging stations  
  • The use of the beforementioned 4G for IoT, making travel communications efficient for commuters and other vehicles  

If you are looking to contribute towards reducing emissions through connectivity, please contact Clarus LEO today to find how our solutions can help.  

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