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Are greener options rising on the roads?

It’d be too early to suggest the end of petrol is upon us, but something significant is happening: petrol sales have fallen in volume by a fifth over the last five years.

BusinessGreen were naturally quick to link it to the purchase of more efficient vehicles in their sub-heading, but it was also sensible to choose to mention the rocketing price of crude oil first in their copy below.

There’s little doubting that fuel efficient vehicles, and the sale of more of them, is gaining some traction. As an unnamed spokesperson for the AA, who released the surprising figures, pointed out:

Whenever we poll our members almost everyone is considering fuel efficiency for their next car, you can see from the carbon emission data for new cars that we are burning less fuel."

Oil and car choices are two factors – but perhaps they’re missing mentioning a third: better driving practices in pursuit of better fuel efficiency.

We’ve been working on pushing drivers in that direction for many years now, and we’re confident it’s getting through. Feel free to check out our fail safe fuel efficient driving tips in the video at the top, or if you prefer the chance to re-read and cogitate upon them a bit more, you can find them here too.

There have been a couple of other pieces of positive transport news that have gained column inches over the last weeks. One was Toyota’s announcement that a fifth of all their European sales were of hybrids, and then there was the E. coli. Yes, you read right.

There's been some suggestion that a rival to diesel is in the offing thanks to genetically-modified bacteria that can convert sugar into fuel – so say researchers at the University of Exeter. Unlike other biofuels, it has the exact chemical composition to be used in engines directly without mixing with petroleum. The obvious downside at present  being that they’re not producing even remotely enough of the stuff to start thinking about industrial application.

If they can make that leap, though, it could bring a truly ‘green’ biofuel - but the truth is this dream is years away, and fossil fuels are still a major part of our lives. This can be clearly noted by another point from the AA's report: a rise in diesel sales, even if there's been a slight drop in volume.

Every sign of progress needs to be built on. It's not just about alternative fuels; it's not just about electric; it's not just about making combustion engines more efficient. Indeed it’s very rare that there’s a simple, perfect solution to a difficult problem like transport carbon emissions – but it’s good to know there are plenty out there striving to get there.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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