Sustainable transport

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Green travel)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Possible scenario of clean mobility
Anthropogenic per capita emissions of greenhouse gases by country by the year 2000.

Sustainable transport refers to the broad subject of transport that is sustainable in the senses of social, environmental and climate impacts. Components for evaluating sustainability include the particular vehicles used for road, water or air transport; the source of energy; and the infrastructure used to accommodate the transport (roads, railways, airways, waterways, canals and terminals). Transport operations and logistics as well as transit-oriented development are also involved in evaluation. Transportation sustainability is largely being measured by transportation system effectiveness and efficiency as well as the environmental and climate impacts of the system.[1]

Short-term activity often promotes incremental improvement in fuel efficiency and vehicle emissions controls while long-term goals include migrating transportation from fossil-based energy to other alternatives such as renewable energy and use of other renewable resources. The entire life cycle of transport systems is subject to sustainability measurement and optimization.[2]

Sustainable transport systems make a positive contribution to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the communities they serve. Transport systems exist to provide social and economic connections, and people quickly take up the opportunities offered by increased mobility,[3] with poor households benefiting greatly from low carbon transport options.[4] The advantages of increased mobility need to be weighed against the environmental, social and economic costs that transport systems pose.

Transport systems have significant impacts on the environment, accounting for between 20% and 25% of world energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.[5] The majority of the emissions, almost 97%, came from direct burning of fossil fuels.[6] Greenhouse gas emissions from transport are increasing at a faster rate than any other energy using sector.[7] Road transport is also a major contributor to local air pollution and smog.[8]

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that each year 2.4 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution could be avoided.[9] Particularly hazardous for health are emissions of black carbon, a component of particulate matter, which is a known cause of respiratory and carcinogenic diseases and a significant contributor to global climate change.[10] The links between greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter make low carbon transport an increasingly sustainable investment at local level—both by reducing emission levels and thus mitigating climate change; and by improving public health through better air quality.[10]

The social costs of transport include road crashes, air pollution, physical inactivity,[11] time taken away from the family while commuting and vulnerability to fuel price increases. Many of these negative impacts fall disproportionately on those social groups who are also least likely to own and drive cars.[12] Traffic congestion imposes economic costs by wasting people's time and by slowing the delivery of goods and services.

Traditional transport planning aims to improve mobility, especially for vehicles, and may fail to adequately consider wider impacts. But the real purpose of transport is access – to work, education, goods and services, friends and family – and there are proven techniques to improve access while simultaneously reducing environmental and social impacts, and managing traffic congestion.[13] Communities which are successfully improving the sustainability of their transport networks are doing so as part of a wider programme of creating more vibrant, livable, sustainable cities.


The term sustainable transport came into use as a logical follow-on from sustainable development, and is used to describe modes of transport, and systems of transport planning, which are consistent with wider concerns of sustainability. There are many definitions of the sustainable transport, and of the related terms sustainable transportation and sustainable mobility.[14] One such definition, from the European Union Council of Ministers of Transport, defines a sustainable transportation system as one that:

  • Allows the basic access and development needs of individuals, companies and society to be met safely and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, and promotes equity within and between successive generations.
  • Is affordable, operates fairly and efficiently, offers a choice of transport mode, and supports a competitive economy, as well as balanced regional development.
  • Limits emissions and waste within the planet's ability to absorb them, uses renewable resources at or below their rates of generation, and uses non-renewable resources at or below the rates of development of renewable substitutes, while minimizing the impact on the use of land and the generation of noise.

Sustainability extends beyond just the operating efficiency and emissions. A life-cycle assessment involves production, use and post-use considerations. A cradle-to-cradle design is more important than a focus on a single factor such as energy efficiency.[15][16]

Environmental impact[edit]

The Bus Rapid Transit of Metz uses a diesel-electric hybrid driving system, developed by Belgian Van Hool manufacturer.[17]

Transport systems are major emitters of greenhouse gases, responsible for 23% of world energy-related GHG emissions in 2004, with about three quarters coming from road vehicles. Currently 95% of transport energy comes from petroleum.[7] Energy is consumef Biofuel Support Policies |journal=Environmental Science & Technology |volume=37 |issue=23 |pages=5445–5452 |author=Heather L. MacLean and Lester B. Lave University of Toronto|doi=10.1021/es034574q |year=2003 }}</ref>

Electric vehicle technology (especially non-battery based vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, ...) has the potential to reduce transport CO2 emissions, depending on the embodied energy of the vehicle and the source of the electricity.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page).

Yet another impact was an increase in sedentary lifestyles, causing and complicating a national epidemic of obesity, and accompanying dramatically increased health care costs.[11][18]


Futurama, an exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, was sponsored by General Motors and showed a vision of the City of Tomorrow.

Cities are shaped by their transport systems. In The City in History, Lewis Mumford documented how the location and layout of cities was shaped around a walkable center, often located near a port or waterway, and with suburbs accessible by animal transport or, later, by rail or tram lines.

In 1939, the New York World's Fair included a model of an imagined city, built around a car-based transport system. In this "greater and better world of tomorrow", residential, commercial and industrial areas were separated, and skyscrapers loomed over a network of urban motorways. These ideas captured the popular imagination, and are credited with influencing city planning from the 1940s to the 1970s.[19]

The popularity of the car in the post-war era led to major changes in the structure and function of cities.[20] There was some opposition to these changes at the time. The writings of Jane Jacobs, in particular The Death and Life of Great American Cities provide a poignant reminder of what was lost in this transformation, and a record of community efforts to resist these changes. Lewis Mumford asked "is the city for cars or for people?"[21] Donald Appleyard documented the consequences for communities of increasing car traffic in "The View from the Road" (1964) and in the UK, Mayer Hillman first published research into the impacts of traffic on child independent mobility in 1971.[22] Despite these notes of caution, trends in car ownership,[23] car use and fuel consumption continued steeply upward throughout the post-war period.

Mainstream transport planning in Europe has, by contrast, never been based on assumptions that the private car was the best or only solution for urban mobility. For example, the Dutch Transport Structure Scheme has since the 1970s required that demand for additional vehicle capacity only be met "if the contribution to societal welfare is positive", and since 1990 has included an explicit target to halve the rate of growth in vehicle traffic.[24] Some cities outside Europe have also consistently linked transport to sustainability and to land-use planning, notably Curitiba, Brazil, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada.

Greenhouse gas emissions from transport vary widely, even for cities of comparable wealth. Source: UITP, Mobility in Cities Database

There are major differences in transport energy consumption between cities; an average U.S. urban dweller uses 24 times more energy annually for private transport than a Chinese urban resident, and almost four times as much as a European urban dweller. These differences cannot be explained by wealth alone but are closely linked to the rates of walking, cycling, and public transport use and to enduring features of the city including urban density and urban design.[25]

A bypass the Old Town in Szczecin, Poland

The cities and nations that have invested most heavily in car-based transport systems are now the least environmentally sustainable, as measured by per capita fossil fuel use.[25] The social and economic sustainability of car-based transportation engineering has also been questioned. Within the United States, residents of sprawling cities make more frequent and longer car trips, while residents of traditional urban neighbourhoods make a similar number of trips, but travel shorter distances and walk, cycle and use transit more often.[26] It has been calculated that New York residents save $19 billion each year simply by owning fewer cars and driving less than the average American.[27] A less car intensive means of urban transport is carsharing, which is becoming popular in North America and Europe, and according to The Economist, carsharing can reduce car ownership at an estimated rate of one rental car replacing 15 owned vehicles.[28] Car sharing has also begun in the developing world, where traffic and urban density is often worse than in developed countries. Companies like Zoom in India, eHi in China, and Carrot in Mexico, are bringing car-sharing to developing countries in an effort to reduce car-related pollution, ameliorate traffic, and expand the number of people who have access to cars.[29]

The European Commission adopted the Action Plan on urban mobility on 2009-09-30 for sustainable urban mobility. The European Commission will conduct a review of the implementation of the Action Plan in the year 2012, and will assess the need for further action. In 2007, 72% of the European population lived in urban areas, which are key to growth and employment. Cities need efficient transport systems to support their economy and the welfare of their inhabitants. Around 85% of the EU's GDP is generated in cities. Urban areas face today the challenge of making transport sustainable in environmental (CO2, air pollution, noise) and competitiveness (congestion) terms while at the same time addressing social concerns. These range from the need to respond to health problems and demographic trends, fostering economic and social cohesion to taking into account the needs of persons with reduced mobility, families and children.[30]

Policies and governance[edit]

Seven sustainable transportations in one photo (Prague).

Sustainable transport policies have their greatest impact at the city level. Outside Western Europe, cities which have consistently included sustainability as a key consideration in transport and land use planning include Curitiba, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; Portland, Oregon; and Vancouver, Canada. The state of Victoria, Australia passed legislation in 2010 – the Transport Integration Act[31] – to compel its transport agencies to actively consider sustainability issues including climate change impacts in transport policy, planning and operations.[32]

Many other cities throughout the world have recognised the need to link sustainability and transport policies, for example by joining the Cities for Climate Protection program.[33]

Oil price trend, 1939–2007, both nominal and adjusted to inflation.
Vehicle-miles traveled in the United States up to March 2009.

Community and grassroots action[edit]

Sustainable transport is fundamentally a grassroots movement, albeit one which is now recognised as of citywide, national and international significance.

Whereas it started as a movement driven by environmental concerns, over these last years there has been increased emphasis on social equity and fairness issues, and in particular the need to ensure proper access and services for lower income groups and people with mobility limitations, including the fast-growing population of older citizens. Many of the people exposed to the most vehicle noise, pollution and safety risk have been those who do not own, or cannot drive cars, and those for whom the cost of car ownership causes a severe financial burden.[34]

An organization called Greenxc started in 2011 created a national awareness campaign in the United States encouraging people to carpool by ride-sharing cross country stopping over at various destinations along the way and documenting their travel through video footage, posts and photography.[35] Ride-sharing reduces individual's carbon footprint by allowing several people to use one car instead of everyone using individual cars.

Recent trends[edit]

Car travel increased steadily throughout the twentieth century, but trends since 2000 have been more complex. Oil price rises from 2003 have been linked to a decline in per capita fuel use for private vehicle travel in the US,[36] Britain and Australia. In 2008, global oil consumption fell by 0.8% overall, with significant declines in consumption in North America, Western Europe, and parts of Asia.[37] Other factors affecting a decline in driving, at least in America, include the retirement of Baby Boomers who now drive less, preference for other travel modes (such as transit) by younger age cohorts, the Great Recession, and the rising use of technology (internet, mobile devices) which have made travel less necessary and possibly less attractive.[38]

Tools and incentives[edit]

Several European countries are opening up financial incentives that support more sustainable modes of transport. The European Cyclists' Federation, which focuses on daily cycling for transport, has created a document containing a non-complete overview.[39] In the UK, employers have for many years been providing employees with financial incentives. The employee leases or borrows a bike that the employer has purchased. You can also get other support. The scheme is beneficial for the employee who saves money and gets an incentive to get exercise integrated in the daily routine. The employer can expect a tax deduction, lower sick leave and less pressure on parking spaces for cars.[40][41] Since 2010, there has been a scheme in Iceland (Samgöngugreiðslur) where those who do not drive a car to work, get paid a lump of money monthly. An employee must sign a statement not to use a car for work more often than one day a week, or 20% of the days for a period. Some employers pay fixed amounts based on trust. Other employers reimburse the expenses for repairs on bicycles, period-tickets for public transport and the like. Since 2013, amounts up to ISK 8000 per month have been tax-free. Most major workplaces offer this, and a significant proportion of employees use the scheme. From the year 2019 half the amount is tax-free if the employee sings a contract not to use a car to work for more than 40% of the days of the contract period.[42][43]


The term green transport is often used as a greenwash marketing technique for products which are not proven to make a positive contribution to environmental sustainability. Such claims can be legally challenged. For instance Norway's consumer ombudsman has targeted automakers who claim that their cars are "green", "clean" or "environmentally friendly". Manufacturers risk fines if they fail to drop the words.[44] The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) describes green claims on products as very vague, inviting consumers to give a wide range of meanings to the claim, which risks misleading them.[45] In 2008 the ACCC forced a car retailer to stop its green marketing of Saab cars, which was found by the Australian Federal Court as misleading.[46]


The EU Directorate-General for Transport and Energy (DG-TREN) has launched a programme which focusses mostly on Urban Transport. Its main measures are:

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Jeon, C M; Amekudzi (March 2005), "Addressing Sustainability in Transportation Systems: Definitions, Indicators, and Metrics" (PDF), Journal of Infrastructure Systems: 31–50
  2. ^ Helping to Build a Safe and Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure (PDF), U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, May 2010
  3. ^ Schafer, A. (1998) "The global demand for motorized mobility." Transportation Research A 32(6), 455-477.
  4. ^ "LEDS in Practice: Fight poverty". Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP).
  5. ^ World Energy Council (2007). "Transport Technologies and Policy Scenarios". World Energy Council. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2009-05-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "About Transportation & Climate Change: Transportation's Role in Climate Change: Overview - DOT Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse". Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  7. ^ a b Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007). "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Mitigation of Climate Change, chapter 5, Transport and its Infrastructure" (PDF). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  8. ^ "National multipollutant emissions comparison by source sector in 2002". US Environmental Protection Agency. 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
  9. ^ "Air pollution: World's worst Environmental health risk" (PDF). United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  10. ^ a b "LEDS in Practice: Breathe clean". Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP).
  11. ^ a b World Health Organisation, Europe. "Health effects of transport". Archived from the original on 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2008-08-29. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ Social Exclusion Unit, Office of the Prime Minister (UK). "Making the Connections - final report on transport and social exclusion" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-07. Retrieved 2003-02-01. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ Todd Litman (1998). "Measuring Transportation: Traffic, Mobility and Accessibility" (PDF). Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
  14. ^ Todd Litman (2009). "Sustainable Transportation and TDM". Online TDM Encyclopedia. Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Retrieved 2009-04-07.
  15. ^ Strategies for Managing Impacts from Automobiles, US EPA Region 10, retrieved May 22, 2012
  16. ^ "European Union's End-of-life Vehicle (ELV) Directive", End of Life Vehicles, EU, retrieved May 22, 2012
  17. ^ "Van Hool presents the ExquiCity Design Mettis". Archived from the original on 5 June 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  18. ^ "An interview with Dr Reid Ewing". Relationship between urban sprawl and physical activity, obesity, and morbidity. American Journal of Health Promotion 18[1]: 47-57. September–October 2003. Archived from the original on 2006-03-15. Retrieved 2008-07-25. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  19. ^ Ellis, Cliff (2005). "Lewis Mumford and Norman Bel Geddes: the highway, the city and the future". Planning Perspectives. 20 (1): 51–68. doi:10.1080/0266543042000300537. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
  20. ^ James Howard Kunstler (1993). The Geography of Nowhere.
  21. ^ Lewis Mumford. "Lewis Mumford on the City". Retrieved 2009-03-18.
  22. ^ Hillman, Mayer (2014-08-10). "Children Key publications". Key publicatonson children's quality of life by Dr. Mayer Hillman. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
  23. ^ Cite error: The named reference was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  24. ^ van den Hoorn, T & B van Luipen (2003). "National and Regional Transport Policy in the Netherlands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2008-07-27. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  25. ^ a b Kenworthy, J R Transport Energy Use and Greenhouse Emissions in Urban Passenger Transport Systems : A Study of 84 Global Cities Archived 2008-09-09 at the Wayback Machine Murdoch University
  26. ^ Ewing, Reid & Cervero, Robert (2001). "Travel and the Built Environment: A Synthesis" (PDF). Transportation Research Record, 1780: 87-114. 2001. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
  27. ^ "New York City's Green Dividend" (PDF). CEOs for Cities. 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  28. ^ "Seeing the back of the car". The Economist. 2012-09-22. Retrieved 2012-09-23. Published in the Sept 22nd 2012 print edition.
  29. ^ "How are social enterprises helping address road safety and transportation challenges in India?".
  30. ^ "Transport: Action Plan on urban mobility - European commission". Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  31. ^ "Transport Integration Act 2010" (PDF). Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  32. ^ Transport Integration Act 2010, Part 2 - see
  33. ^ "ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability". Cities for Climate Protection. International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. 1995–2008. Archived from the original on 2009-03-07. Retrieved 2009-03-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  34. ^ "Making the Connections: Final report on transport and social exclusion". UK Social Exclusion Unit. February 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-05-21. Retrieved 2008-07-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  35. ^ "GreenXC". GreenXC Website.
  36. ^ "Transportation Energy Data Book". US Department of Energy. 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  37. ^ "BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2009". BP. 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  38. ^ "A New Direction". 2013. U.S. PIRG. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  39. ^ Commuting: Who pays the bill, Retrieved 2019-01-14
  40. ^ Bike2Work Scheme, Retrieved 2019-01-14
  41. ^ CycleScheme, Retrieved 2019-01-14
  42. ^ Kostnaður fyrirtækja við gerð og viðhald á bílastæðum er mikill. Nú bjóða ýmis fyrirtæki starfsfólki sínu upp á samgöngusamning en þá skuldbindur starfsmaðurinn sig til þess að fara ekki á einkabíl til og frá vinnu og fær í staðinn ákveðna greiðslu. Slíkt býðst t.d. starfsfólki Umhverfisstofnunar., Retrieved 2019-01-14
  43. ^ Skattmat, Retrieved 2019-01-31
  44. ^ "Norways Says Cars Neither Green Nor Clean". 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  45. ^ ACCC: Green marketing and the Trade Practices Act, 2008 Archived 2010-12-12 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  46. ^ ' Coming clean on green Archived 2012-02-22 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  47. ^


  • Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence, Island Press, Washington DC, 1999. Newman P and Kenworthy J, ISBN 1-55963-660-2.
  • Sustainable Transportation Networks, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, England, 2000. Nagurney A, ISBN 1-84064-357-9
  • Introduction to Sustainable Transportation: Policy, Planning and Implementation, Earthscan, London, Washington DC, 2010. Schiller P Eric C. Bruun and Jeffrey R. Kenworthy, ISBN 978-1-84407-665-9.
  • Sustainable Transport, Mobility Management and Travel Plans, Ashgate Press, Farnham, Surrey, 2012, Enoch M P. ISBN 978-0-7546-7939-4.

External links[edit]