Greenhouse Gases and Driving
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Low-emission vehicles reduce greenhouse gases but encourage more driving. Integrated land use and transportation solutions are the true sustainable solutions to solve environmental problems related to transportation. Transport is a very significant component necessary for human development. It provides access to markets, education, employment, healthcare services recreational activities and other key socio-economic services. It has been note than in the developing countries, the best means through which to meet the set Millennium Development Goals is by improving the mobility rates for vulnerable and poor groups. This paper seeks to support the argument that as much as low-emission vehicles reduce greenhouse gases but encourage more driving. More so, the paper will support the fact that integrated land use and transportation solutions are the true sustainable solutions to solve environmental problems related to transportation.
The UN provides that cities as urban centers should uphold respect for nature. This implies the need to embrace the ecological environment in urban centers as an indispensable asset. Through integrating environmental issues into urban city administration and planning as well as increasing the transition rate to environmentally sustainable development, cities can effectively manage their ecological environment (Jägerbrand, Dickinson, Mellin, Viklund & Dahlberg, 2014). This is at present being pursued through the promotion of renewable energy sources as well as low carbon emission cities.
In an effort to minimize the adverse effects of climate change, automobile manufacturers are now producing low carbon emissions vehicles (Jägerbrand et al. 2014). The invention of the automobile brought an unprecedented revolution in human mobility. This in itself played a very significant role in the development of cities and in the quest to have new sources of energy. As people sought to have this new mode of transportation at their disposal, the demand for energy rose. The only accessible source of energy was fossil fuels. Over time, the adverse effect of using fossil fuels for transport has resulted in environmental degradation. This has championed the need for alternative sources of energy and new motor vehicle engine designs which are environmentally friendly.
This has been embraced as an innovative way towards realizing better use of natural resources, taking care of the ecological environment as well as enhancing human mobility. It is important to note that transport sector contributes nearly 25% of the global air pollution second only to the energy production sector (Litman, 2014). Of the 25% CO2 emissions’ polluting the world’s environment, over 70% comes from road transport (Litman, 2014). Thus the employment of motor vehicle engine technologies towards minimizing CO2 emissions has been positively welcomed by environmental activists.
Unfortunately, this has solved only a small part of the larger problem. The rebound effect has played a significant role in negating the gains made in achieving lower CO2 emissions. Mobility management has been earmarked as a great means with which to achieve targets of lower CO2 emissions (Litman, 2014). Mobility management aims at using alternatives mode of transportation within urban settings which minimize the use of automobiles.
There are extra external costs associated with enhanced fuel efficiency or unconventional energy sources in motor vehicles. The current analysis fails to encompass an occurring phenomenon referred to as the rebound effect. The rebound effect can be generated in the long term to show the following results. It has been proven that with a rebound effect of about 20%, fuel economy savings of about 50% results in more travel (Litman, 2014). This is estimated to increase by about 10% such that the net savings are only 40%. One can therefore effectively deduce the as much as low carbon emissions lead to efficiencies in energy conservation, result in air pollution reductions, and savings on fuel expenditures. However, this translates to a higher sum on the total mileage covered annually. This results in more transport related problems. These include greater traffic congestion, parking facility and road costs, more accidents as well as sprawls (Pugh, 2013).
The current state of affairs affecting the American road transport sector implies that different transportations agencies have to work together towards formulating and implementing policies that are both effective and efficient (Rooney, Savage, Rue, Toth & Venner, 2010). One of the strategic policies that can realize less air pollution in urban settings, engage climate change issues, reduce road accidents and carnage, control excess motorization, encourage the use of non fuel modes of transport and meet the mobility needs of the urban poor.
Proper transport planning and land use strategies can enable urban city planners reduce distance to be covered as well as avoid unwarranted human mobility. These two strategies can work in concert to ensure the realization of the transport sector objectives (Rooney et al. 2010). Referred to as the avoid strategy, transport planning and land use can be effected towards reducing journey distances as well as improving transport accessibility. Through the development of urban cities master plans, cities in both the developing and developing nations can realize greater environmental benefits as well as grater socio-economic development agendas (Pugh, 2013).
The second strategy which appraises the need to align urban city planning to integrated land use and transportation solutions as sustainable solutions to solve environmental problems related to transportation is the shift strategy (Rooney et al. 2010). Through the shift strategy, urban city planners can encourage city dwellers to adopt sustainable transportation modes. Urban planners can encourage residents to shun personalized transport modes in favor of public transport solutions and more so, non motor transport solutions such as cycling. This can be done through adoption of mobility demand management paradigms coupled with extensively developed inter-city transportation corridors for goods as well as passengers (Pugh, 2013). This implies that city planners will have to continuously appraise the residents opting for non motor transport modes as the positively contribute to a sustainable transport system.
The third strategy involves formulating policies which enhance transport policies as well as the application of new and innovative technologies. This is therefore a technologically biased solution to transport sector challenges (Rooney et al. 2010). This measure entails improving urban public transport fuel efficiency, fuel quality, CO2 emission standards, vehicle maintenance and inspection policies, as well as enhancing transition towards intelligent systems of urban transport.
Compared to the switch and avoid strategies, the improve strategy is comparative weaker. It is however stronger as compared to the low carbon emissions vehicle as this is enhanced by the application of new and innovate technologies (Rooney et al. 2010). The application of these technologies associated with integrated land use and transportation are ideal towards solving environmental challenges associated with urban city transportation.
In conclusion, sustainable urban city planning with regard to the transport sector not only results in better environmental conservation outcomes but also appraises human development. Transportation design and planning has a far better outcome at directly influencing the transportations decisions city residents make. Through integrated land use and transportation solutions, cities as a better chance of combating environmental problems related to transportation as opposed to low carbon emission vehicles.
Jägerbrand, A. K., Dickinson, J., Mellin, A., Viklund, M., & Dahlberg, S. (2014). Rebound effects of energy efficiency measures in the transport sector in Sweden.
Litman, T. (2014). Congestion Evaluation Best Practices. Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
Pugh, C. (2013). Sustainable cities in developing countries. London, UK: Routledge.
Rooney, K., Savage, K., Rue, H., Toth, G., & Venner, M. (2010). Corridor Approaches to Integrating Transportation and Land Use. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2176(1), 42-49.