As a result of COVID-19's impact on our work and commute habits, the past two years have seen us collectively make significant gains in cutting back on carbon emissions. However, as some workplaces have started the transition back to the workplace, recent evidence suggests that we risk backsliding on that progress. Let’s look at what you personally can do to stay on the side of sustainability in 2022.
Emissions Trends in the COVID-19 Era
Greenhouse gas emissions for 2021 have been published by the Rhodium Group. Following a notable decline, figures suggest that we are now returning to pre-pandemic levels of air pollution.
The initial push towards remote working and social distancing at the start of the pandemic resulted in a significant decrease in emissions. Experts noted at the time that had those figures kept trending downwards, it would've put the US on track not just to reduce overall emissions, but also to meet the Paris Agreement goal of a 50% net reduction in emissions by 2030. As the pandemic continued, however, the vaccine rollout—along with an easing of social distancing restrictions and the injection of considerable fiscal stimulus into the economy—made it possible for the US to open back up for business far sooner than anticipated, thus putting many commuters back on the road.
As a result, while 2020 saw a 15% decrease in emissions, that same figure went up by approximately 10% in 2021.
What can we do?
Most transportation emissions come from cars using up gasoline, so a marked increase can be indicative of a parallel rise in commuters choosing to drive more often. We can also measure this by noting the uptick in I-66 drivers paying more at tolls recently.
This should prompt us to re-examine our transit options.
Commute66 can help employers offer transit benefits that incentivize workers to opt out of driving as their primary mode of transportation. This can result in your business saving on operational costs, healthcare premium subsidies, and employee retention.
We can also help employees plan out their new, sustainable commute. And by signing up for the Sustain & Save program, eligible employers can offer a $100 monthly incentive to employees who make the change to a more sustainable option, such as carpooling, vanpooling, or using public transit.
Reach out and let one of our consultants help you make sustainable commuting your "new normal" in 2022.
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com for Arlington Transportation Partners
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