For those who would like to spend even more time behind the wheel, the future looks bright. According to a new study from the International Energy Agency, the increase in urbanization across the globe will further overload roads and increase emissions.
With apologies to Dickens, the “A Tale of Renewed Cities” report finds that road transport kilometers from passenger and freight travel will double between 2010 and 2050. Despite improvements in vehicle fuel economy, all of that extra driving will increase transportation emissions by 80% during that period, which is not a promising statistic for people who plan on inhaling on a regular basis.
(Source: International Energy Agency)
The IEA’s report includes a plan to mitigate some of the impacts of increased congestion. The report recommends the following “avoid, shift and improve” policies:
- “Avoid” policies address transport energy use and emissions by slowing travel growth via city planning and travel demand management.
- “Shift” policies enable and encourage movements from motorised travel to more energy efficient modes, such as public transit, walking, cycling and freight rail.
- “Improve” policies can reduce energy consumption and emissions of all travel modes through the introduction of efficient fuels and vehicles.
The IEA estimates that between now and 2050 implementing these strategies could lower global spending on vehicles, fuels, and transport infrastructure by as much as $70 trillion.
The “shift” policies – moving people out of cars and into buses and onto bikes – are the toughest for lawmakers to implement. Increasing funding for mass transit is tough politically in the United States and other countries that have restricted federal spending due to reduced revenues. While bicycles (including electric ones, as documented in Navigant Research’s report, Electric Bicycles) are growing in popularity with consumers, policymakers haven’t been keen historically on providing rebates on two-wheel purchases.
One of the IEA’s underlying assumptions that contributes to their dire outlook for urban commuters is that the number of vehicles on the road is expected to double between 2010 and 2050. Navigant Research, however, expects that vehicle sales will plateau in some regions, as was highlighted during our recent webinar on Peak Cars.
One of the travel management technologies that will help to relieve congestion is the implementation of intelligent traffic systems, as described in Navigant Research’s 2013 Smart Cities report. According to the report, by 2020 spending on smart traffic technologies will grow to $5.5 billion globally.
The government of China is considering a more immediate and radical response to rising congestion. China Car Times has reported that eight Chinese cities are considering implementing car buying limits to slow down the addition of vehicles onto city streets.
Tags: Clean Transportation, Peak Cars, Policy & Regulation, Smart Transportation Practice
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