Going car free has the potential to have a huge impact on people’s behaviour and emissions.
A new annual challenge by climate action charity Possible, encourages participants to cut their car use by taking more low-carbon transport or giving up their car for the entire month of July.
Transport emissions make up over a quarter of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting car use can be hugely beneficial to the climate, air quality and to household budgets.
In the vein of similar environmentally-themed, month-long challenges like Veganuary and No Mow May, going car free will be looking to make a positive climate impact.
The campaign gives participants the freedom to design their experience - so no matter their circumstances or access needs, they can still take part.
Challenges, including replacing their weekly grocery shop journey, commute or school run with a low-carbon transport aims to inspire participants to redevelop their relationship with public transport.
Possible ran a pilot scheme earlier in the year in order to identify key barriers to going car free. In the midst of the cost of living crisis, the ten participants saved £8.78 a week on average between them - potential savings of just over £450 a year.
They also started shopping locally and exploring their local areas more. After the trial, all participants reported using their cars less or using sustainable modes for some journeys, others even sold their cars.
Between them, they also saved 372kg of CO2. Possible estimates that if 10,000 people took part in going car free 2022 for the full month then there would be carbon savings of 549t of CO2 - equivalent to the amount of carbon absorbed by over 26,000 trees in a year.
With transport emissions making up 27% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, and cars accounting for over half of this total - cutting car use is an important step in keeping within UK climate targets.
Past studies have found that one of the most impactful actions an individual can take to reduce their climate impact is living car free. This challenge seeks to help people slash their car use, reevaluate how large a component their cars are in their lives - and set them on a journey to going car free.
Those taking part have the chance to win prizes from Brompton, Cycle Chic, Cycle Spirit Joe’s Tea Co and Kabloom.
They will also receive discount codes from Voi Technology, Co-Wheels, Enterprise Car Club, Cycle Chic, Cycle Spirit, Carry Me Bikes and Peddle My Wheels. Prizes also include a free membership to Green Squirrel’s online community The Something Club.
Sandra Green, a car free Birmingham campaigner at Possible, said: “It’s brilliant to finally unveil this challenge to the public. After running our trial earlier in the year, it was clear that just sampling the car free lifestyle gave people an appetite to take it further.
"Going car free has the potential to have a huge impact on people’s behaviour and emissions. I can’t wait for more people to try out car free living and discover the joys of active travel, explore local shops and attractions and slash their climate impact.”
Yasmin Dahnoun is an assistant editor of The Ecologist. This article was based on a press release from the charity Possible.