How will we move in a carbon-free world

Climate change

The path to decarbonizing transport has become clear over time – and it seems consumers are keen to achieve it, write Peter Newman and Dean Economou of Curtin University in Perth.

Transport is lagging behind in the decarbonization of the economy.

Like the International Energy Agency suggests, oil and gas can no longer hide behind coal as a rogue fuel for climate change. But how difficult will decarbonising transport be?

Electric vehicles present an attractive option for consumers: they feel good to drive, are cheaper to drive, and will considerably cheaper to buy by 2030. Their competitors, oil and gas cars, are under increasing pressure as the world decarbonizes.

Electric vehicles are coming out of showrooms at an accelerated pace – flashy Compound annual growth of 50% since 2015. Of 9,000 people in 13 countries planning to buy a new car this year, 41% planned to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle, according to Ernst and Young.

Yet in most countries electric vehicles are purchased by people with higher incomes. To meet emission reduction targets, low-income people will need to have access to affordable electric vehicles so that they can stop driving gasoline and diesel cars. The United States is considering Targeting of VE grants low income people.

There’s a big problem: Solar-charged EVs will be a very cheap form of mobility, which means cities are likely to become even more car dependent.

Vehicle congestion remains a problem even if the cars do not spit toxic fumes. And the best cities to live in tend not to be designed around cars. It is inevitable that some version of road user pricing will come into effect to help counter congestion associated with increased investment in public transport.

Autonomous vehicles are coming in one form or another (though perhaps never as fully autonomous machines), and can support both private property and public transport. Most new vehicles have some form of range to help with road safety, including new forms of mass transit such as railless streetcars.

Railless trams are guided quickly and smoothly on main roads like a high-quality tram by an intelligent system, powered by batteries on the roof. They are cheaper than traditional trams. A strong electric transportation system will help balance the congestion caused by electric vehicles, alongside increased adoption of electric vehicles and e-bikes.

Like electric vehicles, the growth of electric bikes has also taken off, along with all other electric bikes (scooters, skateboards, unicycles, hoverboards). Forbes projects which, by 2030, sales of electric bicycles will reach 17 million per year in Europe, against 3.7 million in 2020. They should to augment in the short-haul transport market, if the right protections are given, such as separate lanes and forward-thinking regulations.

And it’s not just for commuters. Most deliveries in dense urban areas are increasingly made by electric cargo bikes as they are cheaper and faster than driving a car.

Vespa style electric scooters are a booming market, with affordable, stylish and high performance models sourced from Motorcycle Power India from trusted brands like hero. In East Africa, Electric Boda Bodas are gaining popularity. These are used in emerging cities for passengers and freight.

Walking remains the most important form of mobility for our health and has shaped many cities designed to encourage activity. During the pandemic, more people started to walk – and he can grow any further.

But it will depend on how we build our cities. He stays ongoing debate how much we build our cities around walking and transit rather than cars.

No more walking or using e-bikes and e-bikes, presents no environmental threat, we just need to secure them. Companies like Luna and Voi Scooters are teaming up to develop and test electric scooter technology to detect and avoid pedestrians.

The combination of electric vehicles and public transport will reduce emissions and unlock urban regeneration around station neighborhoods that are recharging hubs, attracting investment in housing, jobs and services.

The transformation of the heavy vehicle sector may take longer.

Trucks and freight trains were considered too heavy to switch to electricity, so a lot of work went into hydrogen fuel cells. Emerging battery technology now makes it possible to trucks and the trains switch to electric. These are bought by big mining companies, creating new jobs in the regions.

They will need more recharging services that are fast and extend across the locations they serve.

The biggest problem in transportation is what to do with ships and planes which represent around 23% of global transport emissions.

It seems that there are only a few small ships and Airplanes that can be electrified and the only carbon-free fuels that can run are still incredibly expensive. Hydrogen created from solar energy is needed to make ammonia for ships and synthetic jet fuel for airplanes. Advanced biofuels made from wood waste have a similar story and all need breakthroughs in science and engineering.

Small low-carbon or “eVTOL” planes are a potential solution for short journeys. There are approximately 200 companies working on this type of vehicle for intra and interurban trips up to 300 kilometers. Autonomous flying machines can do the work of helicopters and business aircraft with little noise and become efficiently Ubers in the air.

We could travel less for meetings – especially international meetings – and continue to use platforms like Zoom, especially as travel becomes a ethical problem for many people and businesses.

Aside from ships and planes, which require creative thinking and experimentation, the path to a transport energy transition is not hard to see. A carbon-free transport system is emerging.

Originally published under Creative Commons by 360info ™.

Peter Newman is professor of sustainability at Curtin CUSP and lead author for Transport on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has written 23 books on sustainable cities and received an Order of Australia for his contributions to urban design and sustainable transport. Peter Newman does not receive any financial support from the IPCC.

Dean Economou is a researcher at Curtin CUSP specializing in new transport technologies, maintains a practice of transport consulting and is a founding advisor for an on-demand shared mobility provider Liftango.

The authors have declared no conflicts of interest with respect to this article.