Core Principle 1

Changing Perspectives:
Focus on impact,
not solutions

More mobility is not always better

Despite all the regulations and new technologies designed to improve traffic flows, road congestion is only getting worse. Despite vehicles becoming more and more efficient, emissions are increasing and climate change is intensifying. Despite massive investments in public transport and bike sharing schemes, automobiles remain a necessity for millions of people. Noise pollution and poor air quality continue to plague cities, the cost of car ownership is still more than many people can afford, and access to alternative modes is anything but equally distributed. Sometimes, transportation seems like an unsolvable problem.

Why is transport our main concern?

Road travel accounts for about three-quarters of global transport emissions, mainly from passenger vehicles such as cars and buses. Since the entire transport sector is responsible for about 21% of total emissions, road transport accounts for roughly 15% of total CO2 emissions worldwide. As transport demand continues to grow, so do its negative impacts.

The world’s wealthiest countries, including those in Europe, have by far the largest carbon footprints. Households in these countries tend to own larger cars and SUVs, often more than one car per household, and have extremely low automobile occupancy rates.

Emissions per person-kilometre need to be reduced dramatically for us to have any chance of stopping global warming. In order to achieve climate goals that have already been agreed upon, European countries need to reduce transport emissions by up to 95% by 2050. The data has been clear for years, but regulatory measures and technological solutions have been unable to reverse the trend.

Why are the solutions not working?

For decades, the effects of new measures and assumed solutions have been overestimated and the drivers of behavioural changes have been misjudged. For example, attempts to reduce emissions by making traffic flow more smoothly or by increasing the efficiency of car engines has not led to reduced energy-consumption or emissions. On the contrary, improvements to road infrastructure and vehicle efficiency have enhanced the attractiveness of cars as a primary transport option, thereby inducing demand and worsening the problem they were meant to solve.

Failure to resolve rising emissions (and many other persistent problems in the transport sector) calls for a radical change in perspective and approach. Instead of trying to improve the current system, we need to focus on why we move in the first place. By understanding the reasons behind our mobility patterns, we can seek to address the problems where they begin.

How can this new perspective be more successful?

The concept of mobility budgets in MyFairShare breaks down larger emission reduction targets into smaller efforts. To reach the goal of reducing emissions by 95% in 20 years, each year has to see a reduction by 14% compared to the previous year. This means measures will have to be taken to ensure that households produce 14% fewer emissions through their mobility behaviour every year.

If we want to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown, GHG emissions of all kinds, in all places, must not cumulatively exceed the global carbon budget. An emphasis on strict and ambitious short-term targets is now necessary. By shifting the analytic focus from supply to demand, mobility budgets can assist in identifying and resolving underlying systemic drivers.

Next Core Principle

Core Principle 2

Accessibility for All:

Mobility must be fairly shared

The idea of a mobility budget might at first seem counterintuitive. Isn’t mobility a human right? Aren’t we free to move wherever we want, whenever we want, and by whatever means we choose? Wouldn’t any attempt to restrict this freedom be unjust? (…)

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