Oh what a feeling – from NOT using my car

Man holding petrol pump nozzle to his head

Image: Fotolia

To quote a well-known advertising campaign, Oh what a feeling!

But in my case that feeling didn’t come from buying – and using – a particular car.

Quite the opposite.

It came from NOT using my car.

Or, rather, it came from realising that it was 7 weeks since I last filled my car with petrol.  Wow, 7 weeks!

Normally I would be filling it at least once a month.  Sometimes more frequently, depending on what’s happening in my life (errands to places not well served by public transport; transport of things that can’t be carried easily by hand, bike or in a shopping buggy; visiting relatives in the country…).

Over the last several years, I have been trying to cut down on using my car.

For a long time, I seemed to be stuck on filling my car every 2-3 weeks…even though I was budgeting for a trip to the petrol station less than once a month.

Then I cracked the once-a-month level. 🙂 (An improved bus service that enabled me to make more of my trips by bus may have helped… :))

But then I seemed to be stuck at that level…until I undertook my carbon fast this year and made a really concerted effort to use my car even less.

And I succeeded! 🙂

So much so, that it felt odd when I did drive…a bit like getting (back) on a bike.

And it seemed very inconvenient and expensive when I finally had to fill up the car for a country trip.


Because I wasn’t used to it.

And that’s the thing about making changes.

It can seem rather strange and uncomfortable at first.

Then we get used to the new way of doing things.  It becomes easier until it’s second nature.

I am so glad I made a really concerted effort to avoid consuming fossil fuels and generating greenhouse gas emissions while travelling during my carbon fast.

It provided me with the impetus to consider if some of my car trips could be done another way.  (And they could…and I enjoyed the change. :))

And I will continue to avoid using my car even more than in the past.  (When you consider the hip-pocket costs as well, I’m even considering whether I need to own a car at all…)

What impetus will it take us all as a society to make similar changes?  The sort of dramatic changes that are needed to turn around our changing climate?

Is a 50:50 chance of maybe limiting global warming to 2°C enough of an impetus for you to change?  It’s more than enough for me.  (Many are warning that even 2°C warming already involves facing massively damaging climate impacts…and we are currently heading for 4oC warming…)

To reach even that goal would mean that industrialised countries like Australia must cut our greenhouse gas emissions by about 10 per cent a year – and we need to start right now.  And that means we all need act quickly and boldly : we are beyond the stage where we can take a ‘gently, gently’ approach.

With increasing evidence that climate change is accelerating, we urgently need to change how we go about things so that we can avoid generating the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.

And the only way to reduce our greenhouse emissions from transport is to reduce consumption of transport fuels. 

And that mainly means getting out of our petroleum-fuelled cars.


Because transport fuels account for a significant proportion of our greenhouse gas emissions.  And the more we use private, petroleum-fuelled vehicles, the higher our greenhouse gas emissions are.  (For example, here in the Australian Capital Territory, transport fuels account for about 23.5% of our emissions and actual emissions are increasing each year.  That’s because our transport emissions are significantly higher than Australia’s national profile because our transport system is dominated by private, petroleum-fuelled vehicles.)

So, how often do you fill your car? Just leave your comments in the Reply box below…or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!

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