Welcome to BIKE TO SAVE THE PLANET, a three-part series from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia that explores how bike advocacy and climate issues are inextricably linked. The Bicycle Coalition, founded in 1972, was birthed out of the Earth Day movement. We’re launching this series in homage to our roots and to shed light on an important element of our work. We’ve partnered with the Energy Co-op, a local nonprofit community of responsible energy consumers, to present this content. Learn more about how you can decrease your impact on the planet below.
Cycling is good for the health of humans, and it’s also critical to the health of the planet.
Transportation is now the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States, according to the EPA.
And according to a recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if no changes are made on the climate front, global temperatures will rise as much as three degrees by 2030. This is double what the IPCC has deemed catastrophic, in that the worldwide risk of floods, droughts, and wildfires would exponentially increase due to the rise of temperatures.
The IPCC looked at ways to reduce our carbon footprint between now and then, and switching to cycling over private vehicles is one of the suggestions.
As noted by Bicycling Magazine:
A 2015 study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy concluded that a dramatic increase (about 20%) in cycling worldwide could cut carbon dioxide emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 percent in 2050.
We know that there is great potential to shift to more environmentally friendly ways of getting around–nationally, nearly half of all miles traveled by car are in trips of less than three miles. So there are clearly savings to be made in carbon emissions while improving the health of communities as people switch to active transportation.
Bikes are not just transportation; they can also be climate action! But getting there will require a significant public policy commitment. In our next edition of BIKE TO SAVE THE PLANET, we’ll cover what can be done locally to encourage more people to get around by bike and reduce emissions.
Shifting from automobile trips to bicycling, public transit, or walking is part of the solution, but there are more pieces to the climate change puzzle, like where the energy that powers our homes comes from.
Pennsylvania is one of 17 states where consumers can choose who they buy electricity from and how that electricity is generated. Power is still delivered by local utilities like PECO or PPL. But consumers can choose clean, renewable sources of electricity, both to reduce their carbon footprint and to encourage increased investment in the rapidly expanding green energy economy.
In 1998, our partners at The Energy Co-op became the first supplier of renewable electricity in southeastern Pennsylvania. To this day, The Energy Co-op is the only local, nonprofit energy supplier in southeastern Pennsylvania and one of the few that only supplies 100% renewable electricity.
Many other suppliers are subsidiaries of larger fossil fuel companies that primarily sell coal and natural gas-fired electricity. The Energy Co-op is a different kind of energy supplier. As a member-owned, nonprofit cooperative, The Energy Co-op works for their members to help them affordably and sustainably buy, use, and understand energy. And since January 2020, with The Energy Co-op’s Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) program, Philadelphians can now choose RNG for their homes as well. RNG is biogas, comprised primarily of methane, that is captured at landfills and other waste treatment facilities. It’s often flared, wasting the energy content of its methane component. However, RNG can also be used like conventional natural gas – but without any drilling or fracking! So, if you’d like to reduce drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania, switching to RNG is a good way to start.