Considering the case of European Union as one of the world leaders in defining norms and introducing efforts to prevent dangerous climate change, the EU has committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 under the Paris Agreement and to work towards carbon neutrality by the second half of the century.
This is while transport is responsible for nearly 30% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, of which 72% comes from road transportation. To curb the trend, the EU is introducing new CO2 emission targets, which aim to cut harmful emissions from new cars and vans.
CO2 emissions from passenger transport vary significantly depending on the transport mode. Passenger cars are a major polluter, accounting for 60.7% of total CO2 emissions from road transport in Europe. However, modern cars could be among the cleanest modes of transport if shared, rather being driven alone.
These norm settings and regulations has been accompanied by investing heavily in rail-road sector, introducing initiatives and providing funds and incentives for new alternative and innovative solutions for urban mobility platforms.
The private sector has appreciated these intakes and has developed variety of new approaches and innovative solutions that are not older than two decades.
Car pooling and urban car sharing, autonomous vehicles, electric scooters, urban bicycles and charging hubs for electric vehicles are all examples of how there have been numerous attempts to reshape and rethink private and public transport and mobility.
With that being said, there is still an overall fear that by maintaining our current trend of urbanization, plus the general over-population of some of the main metropolitan areas, if “business as usual scenarios” are continued much of the desired targets of European and on the global level for the year 2030 will not be met.
These concerns for the environmental impacts of mobility and public transport has signified itself during the course of COVID-19 pandemic on the level of passenger’s safety and regulatory measures in order to contain the spread of the virus and still manage the freedom of movement.
There is no doubt here that the more investment and focus dedicated to the uplifting of existing infrastructure and finding new solutions by enabling innovators can have a meaningful effect on the existing shape of mobility but what needs to be carefully addressed is a comprehensive approach towards sustainability with considering all the elements and stakeholders of new projects in the field of mobility.
As an example what we can see is that although there has been a great sense of welcoming towards implementing urban bicycles, which by nature promise a more sustainable form of mobility but indeed after the initial phases of investment and adaptation of these projects on a large scale, and a surge in their market as soon as they have promised profitability, now we are seeing catastrophic results in terms of maintenance and environmental impacts in China.
Therefore, as a conclusion to this discussion we would like to point out to the importance of considering a broader image within the urban context when rethinking about mobility because as expressed in this article, with the current trend of urbanization, we are doomed to figure out new technologies or techniques that could enable people and goods to reach to their destination but this matter cannot only be taken into account with introducing innovative projects while assessing its financial feasibility.
What we need is to merge entities and induce cooperation between public and private stake holders to rethink mobility in a cause-effect manner that would not only find solutions on a technical side of these issues while investing heavily on the respective findings but also can promise the adaptation of the societies to the realities of the world that we live today and guides towards sustainability.