Transportation accounts for 20% of global energy demand and 23% of energy related CO2. Between 2005 and 2030, the emissions from transportation are predicated to increase by 57%. Pretty crazy… especially for us in the United States where transportation isn’t just helpful… its indispensable. We often take mobility for granted, but we value it so much that we’ve built our society around it. This is problematic to say the least. The side event Bridging the Gap: Pathways for the Land Transportation sector in a post 2012 world, featured several men and women who have spent a good deal of time figuring out how we might remedy this situation.

Two important ideas were discussed during this event: avoid-shift-improve policy and whole systems change.  The first is the idea that we should firstly avoid the need to travel, then shift to lower carbon modes of transportation and finally improve vehicles and energy consumption. The second refers to the idea that climate change is only one of the problems within our current transportation structure and reformation of the system will provide many co benefits such as noise reduction, cleaner air, less congestion and accidents.

I was excited to hear about this last push because of all our current challenges, climate change is unfortunately one if the most ethereal. However, by discovering and focusing on the connections and relationships between the multiple issues we face, we can develop solutions that address more than a few of these changes. And we can frame them around some the concrete problems that people face everyday- poverty, lack of freshwater, lack of access to transportation, air pollution, social and political unrest, gender issues… the list could go on for pages.

Nearly all the presenters were adamant that urban design is an important mitigation strategy that should be and will be used to decarbonize our transportation system. Designing urban systems that are less dependent on vehicles and more focused on public transportation is the way of the future.  Urban design however, can also address issues such as health, access, social and cultural wealth, and economic issues… You probably get the picture. Frame changing around this ideas will arguably be more successful then purporting them as climate change solutions.

On a side note, there is a group here from India who is wearing aprons that say, “Change systems not climate”… Look for their interview in the coming days!

Must. Run. To. Next. Event…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.