The transport sector is the only sector where no reduction of emissions could be achieved so far, and it is one of the main GHG pollutant among all sectors. If we fail to reach our reduction targets in this sector, we fail to stop global warming.
Especially wealthy countries (like the European countries) are responsible for the by far highest carbon footprint, in particular transport emissions need to be reduced by 95%, ideally before 2050. This includes emissions caused by the production of vehicles and energy, and the emissions caused by the transition to renewable energies.
A simple transition e.g. to electric mobility will therefore, only achieve half of the reduction needed. More radical changes are inevitable.
A mobility budget is a form to make the individual share of the nationally committed and required carbon reduction process transparent and comprehensible for everyone.
Just like a financial budget, a mobility budget shows how much GHG emissions can be “afforded” by each person per year to stay on the track to climate neutral mobility. On average, overall transport GHG emissions need to be reduced by about 15% each year until we reach the emission level that is no longer increasing the global temperature.
A mobility budget is also an instrument to reduce inequalities in mobility, as it takes regional or social behaviour change constraints into account and helps to reduce dependencies on motorised transport, as it shows authorities where investments need to be taken to unburden people from car dependencies.
Read more about the MyFairShare Basic Concept of an Individual Mobility Budget.
If we offset our emissions, e.g., by investing in reforestation, without actually reducing our emissions significantly, climate change will make the environment for new forest not survivable, and carbon cannot be captured as expected. If we invest in technologies for less developed countries to transfer to more efficient transport, the investments will add to the current emission budget, as transformations will produce additional emissions.
Instead of investing in less developed countries to raise them on the level of our energy consumption level, we need to reduce our excessive energy consumption and meet “in the middle” of their and our consumption level to reduce global inequalities and change to climate-compliant consumption in a global scale.
The „freedom of mobility“ we assume to have is an illusion. Mobility is restricted in many ways, by regulations, by physical capacities of infrastructures, and by regional, social, financial circumstances. This produces dependencies – especially on motorised vehicles – as places to live, work and play grow more and more distant.
Improving accessibility instead of mobility increases individual freedom, as it reduces dependencies and compensates transportation disadvantages experienced due to e.g. limited financial resources.
Compared to other countries on the planet, the transport emissions per person and kilometre are extremely high in European countries. Without a significant reduction of transport related carbon emissions in Europe, the global target of climate mitigation will not be met.
Given the high awareness of the climate crisis in Europe, European countries can even take the leading role to inform other countries how to transform, accelerating global efforts to stop global warming. Europe is in the best position to take this leading role.
Behavioural economics teaches us that an alternative must be perceived at least twice as attractive than a known option to trigger behaviour change.
Although public transport has tremendously improved in the last decades, it is not enough to convince enough people to change to public transport from their cars which equally have become more and more convenient. All strategies tried in this respect have not been successful.
The most successful trigger to change from a private car to public transport is if the ease and attractiveness of using a private car is significantly reduced, e.g. by making the use more expensive or – even more effective – increasing the travel time for cars, e.g. by increasing time for finding a parking lot or radically limiting speed.
We are and have always been restricted in our range of travel, we just get accustomed far too easily to new ranges. At the same time, however, our average habits never change – we spend the same average time travelling as historically evidenced, we have the same number of trips and number of main destinations as documented in the early days of transport data collection.
Our mobility behaviour is extremely stable, the only variable is distance. But the increase of distance comes at a very dramatic cost. Climate impacts are already very severe and will increase until the effects of our reductions will stop global warming.