Friday, 4 March 2016

How to reach our target for emissions reductions in the transport sector.

Clean, safe transport is an issue which is climbing up the agenda:
Futures Forum: Make Fore Street pedestrian only !?
Futures Forum: Air pollution: "We all have a part to play to cut environmental pollution. We can't see it, smell it or taste it, which is why people do not necessarily think we have a problem,"

It's a very difficult thing to deliver, however:
Reducing emissions fromtransport - CCC
Reducing emissions from transport - European Commission
10 Steps to Achieve the US Emissions-Reduction Target | World Resources Institute

The New Economics Foundation reminds us of where we are:

Energy round-up: clean transport

Photo credit:   drwhimsy

Transportation is often the ignored piece of the energy transition puzzle.
A clean transport system is harder to achieve than domestic and commercial electricity because we just don’t have feasible low-carbon alternatives yet – engines still need oil. Indeed, the UK’s Energy Secretary has secretly admitted that we’re going to miss our target for emissions reductions in the transport sector.
And while most people don’t have much of a sentimental attachment for sourcing their electricity with coal or gas, they certainly do like their petrol-powered cars. 78% of all miles travelled in England are covered in a car.
But we must decarbonise transport and the current approach, mainly based on small improvements in fuel efficiency, has limited potential. We need to think bigger.

The alternative we need?

Last week Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released new analysis of the electric vehicle sector, confidently predicting that the market for clean vehicles will start to take off by 2022, reaching 35% of new car sales globally by 2040.
BNEF points to the rapidly decreasing cost of batteries that will soon make the average electric car cost-competitive with the average fuel car. And in the UK we’re already seeing a sharp rise in ‘ultra-low emissions vehicles’ (see this week’s graph).
This is an important shift, as well as a major threat to oil producers. How do we make sure our transport system keeps moving in the right direction?
  • We should think beyond cars. Any transport system based predominantly on cars is likely to bring with it huge inequalities – thetop 20% of income earners drive nearly three times as many miles as the lowest 20%. Will zero carbon vehicles be made affordable and accessible to everyone? Would improving public transport be a more resource efficient and equitable alternative?
  • Electric vehicles are only clean if electricity is clean. While renewable electricity generation and electric vehicles work well together, we must not forget that transportation is just one element of a wider transition. Investing in fancy new electric cars is no good if our electricity is still made with coal and gas.
  • We should make sure that new opportunities are shared by all. Recent developments in technology, including driverless vehicles and mobile apps like Uber, could lead us to an entirely different kind of system in which most people, perhaps even some generations alive today, never own a private vehicle. How do we make sure that the benefits of such a system aren’t just captured by a small number of large corporations?
Big changes in energy technologies and the wider economy are afoot. Equally important are the changes to our culture and our society. Defending the principles of social justice and democracy in the transport system is more critical now than ever.

Don't miss these:

  • New registrations of ultra-low emissions vehicles in Great Britain:
Growth in low carbon vehicles

In other news…

America decides
There’s a lot at stake in the US elections this year, not least the future stability of our climate. Based on some candidates’ stances on environmental issues, anyone eager to see meaningful action on climate change in the US and worldwide should be worried by the latest developments. The economist Paul Krugman wrote about some of the opportunities for the next president.
Seeing the light?
The UK’s powerful energy industry lobby group and advocate for fossil fuels – Energy UK – made a surprising intervention to call for better support for renewable energy and a phaseout of coal power. It was highly critical of the government’s abrupt and incoherent energy policy changes.
A cry for help
Despite the intervention from professional fossil fuel lobbyists, the North Sea oil industry continues to suffer from the low oil prices and havecontinued to plead for more government support.
Not-so-green investment bank
The UK Business Secretary, who is overseeing the controversial privatisation of the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB), has sought to placate criticism by announcing that the environmental mission of the institution would be entrusted to a private company with a ‘special share’ in the GIB. Critics have argued that this is a much weaker form of commitment than government control.
Natural gas is a stopgap, not a bridge
The UK Energy Research Centre has looked at the UK government’s climate targets and concluded that without carbon capture and storage technology natural gas “can play only a modest role between now and 2020 and in the medium to long term has no role as a bridging fuel”.
Energy round-up: clean transport | New Economics Foundation

See also:
Futures Forum: The future of cars >>> "on-demand low-carbon mobility" >>> Transition Exeter event with Go-cars: Thurs 22nd Oct
Futures Forum: VW... and making 'wholly opaque disposable vehicles' >>> rather than making vehicles which 'run for a long time and are easy to fix'
Futures Forum: Everything you want to know about owning an Electric Car >>> Lyme Regis: Tuesday 13th October
Futures Forum: The fall and rise of the Electric Vehicle ... and yet "the electricity power grid needed behind the recharging still uses fossil fuels."

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