What is it?

Individual Mobility Budgets introduce personal emission allowances or ‘credits’, which serve as a ‘currency’ for mobility. Users can spend their allowances to fulfil their mobility needs. This makes emissions more tangible at an individual level and contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions.

Making mobility budgets more flexible

Although individual emission allowances already consider personal circumstances such as distances to everyday facilities or health restrictions, they are relatively rigid and cannot adapt to flexibly changing mobility needs, such as unexpected and urgent trips. A potential solution may lie in the transferability of mobility credits.

MyFairShare discusses and tests multiple approaches to transferring individual allowances in its Living Labs, and also discussed the idea of trading personal emission allowances between people.

A trading exchange would enable users to sell surplus mobility credits that they do not need. This could increase people’s short-term mobility, for example in case of emergencies. The price could be determined by market mechanisms similar to other ‘cap-and-trade’ mechanisms, like international emission trading schemes. Such mechanisms are generally recognised for their economic efficiency, as emissions are mostly saved where the costs are low.


A fair approach to tradeable mobility allowances

However, trading mechanisms risk amplifying existing inequalities, favouring wealthier individuals who can afford more credits. To mitigate these issues, trading could be limited to a specified percentage of total individual credits. Such restrictions would dampen the negative effects of market-based trading, like speculation, the emergence of black markets, and misuse by rich and powerful individuals.

Furthermore, purchasing additional mobility allowances does only allow for a short-term increase in mobility. In the long term, the Individual Mobility Budget cannot be exceeded. For example, it could be possible to purchase credits and exceed one’s personal mobility budget to care for relatives in the short term, while the total amount of annual Transport Emissions would still need to remain within one’s individual budget.


Flexibility beyond trading mechanisms

Besides trading, MyFairShare is also exploring other mechanisms to maintain and increase the flexibility for a person’s mobility choices. These include the option to ‘save up’ credits over a longer period to be used for extended holidays, for example, or the transfer of credits to close relatives, to allow them to conduct care work, which requires additional mobility.

In conclusion, Individual Mobility Budgets can effectively contribute to the reduction of transport emissions. The introduction of Tradable Emission Allowances and other transfer options can mitigate potential risks arising from inflexible budgets and preserve the flexibility of individuals in their mobility decisions.

Further Reading