Bus driving down road

Transport is Scotland’s biggest contributor to climate change and it’s increasingly important for us all to consider how we travel from A to B, and when we can use more environmentally conscious transport options. When planning trips or meet ups with friends and family, or discussing with colleagues your commute to work, starting a conversation about how you travel can help normalise making more planet-friendly decisions when it comes to getting around. This page provides all you need to get those conversations going.

Woman walking to work


40% of Scotland’s transport emissions, our biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, comes from cars. During the pandemic, car use reduced dramatically, and many people noticed the benefits of living in quieter, safer and less polluted environments.

Considering over half of all journeys made in Scotland are under 5km, many of these journeys could be taken using active travel like walking, wheeling, or cycling to get around our local areas. Lockdown encouraged the Scottish public to adopt more of these alternative modes of transport, with the number of young people cycling for every day journeys increasing to 39% in 2021 and cycling increasing by 200% generally since lockdown.

For longer journeys, using public transport instead of our own cars can make a significant difference. In fact, one full double decker bus is the equivalent of removing 75 single occupancy cars from Scotland’s roads.

Electric vehicles emit between 17%-30% less greenhouse gas than petrol or diesel cars. It only takes 40 minutes to fully charge an electric car at a cost of £4-£10.

Man in suit cycling to work


We can all make changes to how we travel that will help stop climate change. Spreading the word about these changes can encourage others to form different habits, which can in turn make Scotland a healthier, fairer, greener place to live for us and for future generations. Here are some key talking points to discuss with the people around you.

Reducing car travel

  • How often do you use the car?
  • Are there any car trips that you think you could avoid? For example, by working from home or using an online service instead?
  • Are there times when you could choose a more local destination for your trip, such as for shopping or leisure?
  • Could you combine or share your car trip? By combining multiple trips or sharing a car with someone already travelling you can reduce your overall carbon emissions and fuel efficiency.
  • What are the barriers preventing you from using your car less and how could these be overcome?
  • Can you think of the benefits of using your car less? For example, is there an opportunity to get more physically active, or get to know and support your local community more?

Alternatives to car travel

  • How often do you take the car for short journeys?
  • Can you identify occasions where you could walk, wheel, cycle, or use public or shared transport instead of a private car?
  • By using public transport, you can help to reduce traffic on the roads and make journeys safer and more efficient for other road users, including those who use cars as a mobility aid as well as buses, the emergency services and essential deliveries. Reducing the number of cars on the road also makes it easier for people to walk and cycle safely.
  • Do you already walk, wheel or cycle for leisure and are there ways that you could start to use these modes for ‘travel’ as well? If you’re considering cycling more, have you considered the full range of bikes that could help you to do this, for example, e-cycle, cargo-cycle, folding cycle?
  • What would help you to leave the car at home more? Discuss tips, barriers and share resources.
  • Could you make the majority of your trips using a combination of walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport, and consider replacing one or more cars with a club car membership?

Switching to electric

  • If you still need to own a private car, would you think about switching to an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid instead of a petrol or diesel car?
  • Can you think of some benefits for doing so? For example, saving money on fuel and maintenance costs or reducing air and noise pollution.
  • Are there other ways you could make the trips that you currently use your car for? An e-cycle or e-cargo cycle may be an option to consider if you need to transport children or other heavy or bulky items. Could a switch to one of these offer additional benefits e.g. from increased physical activity, compared to the benefits of switching to an electric car?
Two women on a bus


The Scottish Government has set a target to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030 not just to help address the climate emergency but to reduce inequalities, deliver inclusive economic growth and improve health and wellbeing. Find out more about the choices you can make to reduce your car travel using our handy guide.

We are investing heavily in active travel infrastructure. We have established pilot schemes to provide free bikes for school children who otherwise couldn’t afford one and are introducing safer speed limits in built up areas, as well as introducing low emission zones in four Scottish cities by May 2022 to encourage active travel.

Find more information and resources about Active Travel.

In addition to existing concessionary travel for disabled people and over-60s, from 31st of January 2022, everyone aged under 22 in Scotland will benefit from free bus travel. This will help embed more sustainable travel behaviours from a young age.

Find more information and resources about Public Transport.

We are phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 with the support of the Energy Saving Trust which provides expert advice on reducing transport costs and lowering emissions. Interest-free loans are also available for individuals thinking about buying an electric car, van or e-bike.

Find out more information and resources about Electric Vehicles.