The modernisation and democratisation of means of transports have radically changed how we perceive distances and the world in general. At the same time resource scarcity, climate change and geopolitical stakes have obliged us to re-think models of mobility.
Sustainable mobility: a brand new world
From 7 to 10 November AER members are gathered in Izmir (TR) on the occasion of the Fall Plenary meetings of the 3 AER thematic Committees. The overarching theme of this series of meetings is sustainable mobility, because mobility is first of all access – to work, education, goods and services including health, friends and family. Choices in mobility therefore directly affect the competitiveness of territories but also rural-urban relations, territorial and social cohesion, fairness in terms of health or education, energy security, the circular economy etc
An energy intensive sector
According to the Fifth Asessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, transports account for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Trends in transport are impacted by population growth and changes in demographics as well as by changes in the structure of the economy. The shift to a service economy among other things considerably increases the weigh of transport in greenhouse gas emissions as for instance retail and other services depend on energy-intensive infrastructure.
Connectivity: essential for regional development
For regions, connectivity is an essential element for economic development. For Europe this is also a question of territorial cohesion, a matter for which AER has consistently been lobbying. This is why members in the working groups on transports and energy have focused on different aspects of connectivity including railway, regional airports, and electric vehicles.
“Sustainable”, what’s in a word?
Defining mobility as sustainable refers to the ability of individuals to provide for their needs without compromising the same ability to future generations. To minimise the negative impact of greenhouse gas emissions, individuals need information, motivation and/ or incentives to promote more sustainable solutions for instance public transport or bicycles, instead of individual cars. The key challenge is to meet environmental, economic and societal sustainability. With the new role of subnational entities and organisations, after COP21, regions more than ever have a crucial role in implementing environmentally responsible and sustainable policies.
Regions: the way forward
Sustainable transports and mobility therefore require a holistic approach which goes far beyond the remit of spatial planners. But more importantly sustainable mobility requires mutual learning and experience sharing because the time is now. Regions have a tremendous potential to make the change happen and they are doing it already.
Photo credits Tambako The Jaguar @Flickr http://tinyurl.com/jbmxbsx