Lloyd Wright and Lewis Fulton (2005) “Climate Change Mitigation and Transport in Developing Nations,” Transport Reviews 25, 6, 691–717 (click here for journal contents but full access is for subscribers only; or peek here for a possibly-naughty pdf of the full paper)I found it is a striking read. Assuming its methods can stand up to scrutiny then governments and funders of climate change mitigation projects should take notice... Are you listening GEF and the others?
It makes a strong case that an emphasis on encouraging mode shifts away from private vehicles (or even just slowing mode shifts towards private vehicles) is by far the most cost effective way to mitigate greenhouse emissions. In fact, fuel focused approaches are simply not cost-effective. Yet these are the projects that are getting the lion's share of funding!
Allow me to quote from its conclusions, starting on page 715:
... The scenario analyses indicated that the cost of fuel-based solutions ranged from approximately US$148 to over US$3500/tonne of CO2. By contrast, shifting mode share from high-emitting sources (private vehicles) to lower-emitting sources (public transport and nonmotorized options) produced emission reduction costs between US$14 and US$66/tonne of CO2.
This research has thus indicated that fuel-based solutions alone will not likely achieve cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The most cost effective means to emission reductions appears to be a diverse and integrated package of measures that promote shifts to lower-emitting modes.
Despite the transport sector representing the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, there has been relatively little project activity to address emissions from the sector. The number of transport projects under the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol and under the GEF is relatively small in comparison with other sectors.
While the projections of increased motorization indicated in the IEA reference case are a cause for concern, these trends are not preordained. An alternative is still achievable for most developing nation cities. The low-cost solutions that have emphasized public transport, bicycling and walking, and land-use changes in
Bogotaand are certainly possible elsewhere. Whether the political will exists elsewhere is a question to be answered. Curitiba
Other points in the paper that struck me:
- the world is fast approaching 1 billion motor vehicles on its roads!
- citing a study by the UNFCCC, Finland stands out as the only country to have decoupled transport sector growth from economic growth (with both the 'Nokia effect' in which a key economic driver is not transport intensive, and as a result of strong efforts to curb vehicle ownership and usage
- Technological solutions (tailpipe technologies, fuels, propulsion systems) can appear to be simple black-box solutions that are intrinsically easier for public officials to understand than a broader systems approach.
- Higher-technology options may be perceived as being ‘modern’ by many political officials, while non-motorized transport may be perceived as counter to national aspirations.
- It may be far more politically expedient to promote increased motorization rather than public transport and non-motorized transport.
- BRT is a relatively new concept and there may be informational barriers to its wider application.
- It is possible that simply improving the state of developing-nation footpaths could be one of the most effective long-term measures, from the perspectives of both cost and overall development. However, it is unlikely that any global footpaths initiative is on the horizon anytime soon.