How transport impacts the environment

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(Last updated on: 04/04/2020)

Many people don’t realise how transport effects the environment. They are oblivious to the environmental costs that driving your car or building a new railway line can have. In this post, I will provide a brief summary of some of the ways that transport effects the environment. 

How does transport effect the environment?

How transport impacts the environment

Transportation is an essential part of the economy and the growth of the UK. There is also a strong relationship between transport and tourism. Transportation activities also support increasing mobility demands for passengers and freight, most notably in urban areas.

But transport activities have resulted in growing levels of motorisation and congestion in many areas. As a result, there is growing evidence of how transport effects the environment. I will give some examples below. 

How does transport effect the environment?

Climate Change

One example of how transport effects the environment is climate change. Just one return flight from London to New York produces a greater carbon footprint than a whole year’s personal allowance needed to keep the climate safe. This is a highly debated topic and one that has sparked a lot of research in the past. Contributing to the greenhouse effect, which is a fundamental aspect of the regulation of climate control, transportation has impacted the global climate.


Transportation definitely has an effect on the noise and the amount of sound in busy areas. As an example, London city Airport is closed from 12.30pm Saturdays until 12.30pm Sundays to minimise noise for local residents during unsociable hours. People who live close to the airport hear a lot of unwanted noise during the day and at night, which changes the local environment. Noise regulations give the local residents a chance to not experience the noise that comes with different transportation sources.

Air Quality

All different forms of transportation produce gas and put out pollution into the environment. The most common forms of pollution that are being put into the air are carbon monoxide, lead and nitrogen oxides. This production of pollution has had an effect on the air quality in heavily travelled areas. For instance, breathing the air in Mumbai for one day is the equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes!

Water Quality

The activities of transportation in the UK have an effect on the water and the quality of the water for local residents. Fuel, chemicals and other hazards that are put into the water from airports, boats and other forms of transportation has had a negative effect on the water quality.


Last but not least is the influence transportation has had on biodiversity. Because of the increased need for roads, runways and railways, the amount of green space and forestry has been effected. The chemicals have also run into the soil which has had a negative impact on the forests, trees and plants. Along the same lines, some species of animals has become endangered and are being run out of certain areas because of the lack of space to live and grow.

Although transportation is a huge asset for the economy, it also has a negative effect on the environment. In what other ways do you think transport effects the environment? Comment below!



  1. How transport impacts society - Tourism Teacher - […] While transportation has a direct effect on the environment, as I covered in my recent post ‘How transport effects…
  2. Ground transportation | Understanding tourism - Tourism Teacher - […] Cars have benefits as well as problems; they provide mobility and independence to individuals, with convenience for transport on-demand.…

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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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