Transport plays an important role in society, as production, business, leisure and everyday activities all depend on movement. It has been instrumental in allowing the increase in trade and globalization to take place, and in allowing new forms of networking between people and businesses. This global mobility has been built on efficient aviation and shipping networks, enhanced by the new communications technologies. At the more local level, there have also been substantial increases in mobility by all forms of transport as income levels have risen (Banister, 2011).
Whilst other sectors of the economy have decarbonized, transport has continued to increase its consumption of energy and its CO2 emissions. It now accounts for over 25% of global CO2e and this figure is expected to increase to 50% by 2030 (on 2005 levels), as other sectors decarbonize and as transport emissions continue to grow (IEA, 2010 and NEAA, 2009). Global reduction targets need to be set. In the transport sector a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions would be required by 2050 (on 1990 levels), if this sector were to make a real contribution to avoiding a +2oC in global temperature and substantial sea level rise (ITPS, 2011; IPCC, 2013). This means that the richer countries should be targeting an 80-90% reduction over this period, but this would require major policy interventions that go considerably further than can be achieved by technological innovation alone.
At the city level, the concerns are less about global environmental issues (CO2) and more about the quality of life (clean air and a safe environment), accessibility and affordability of transport, and the quality of the local neighbourhood. Sustainable mobility must address long-term ecological sustainability, and this can be achieved through technological innovation and the efficient use of (clean) energy. But sustainable mobility should also address individual needs for travel, together with ensuring greater equity in terms of access to transport and its affordability. This means that the environmental and social dimensions of sustainable mobility are as important as the technological and efficiency dimensions.
Our projects explore innovative mobility technologies and services that could improve transportation options, while reducing their negative societal and environmental impacts. These projects contribute critical data and analysis to help mobility providers give consumers optimal solutions to meet their transportation needs.
WAGAS looks towards the future, it is expanding its research into the areas of transportation-related energy and environmental issues. Innovative mobility, through both technological advances and modifying people’s travel patterns and behaviors, is an important tool to reduce energy consumption and to create a sustainable transportation system.