Paving the way for low-carbon mobility

#74 - 2 April 2021

Paving the way for low-carbon mobility

Although there seems to be a consensus around the necessity to combat climate change, the debate seems largely focused on electricity production, and not focused enough on the decarbonization of the mobility sector, the only sector that witnessed a rise in its emissions levels between 1990 and 2014. However, reaching the goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050 will not be possible without a revolution in how we think and organize transport. From the technical changes needed to reduce direct CO2 emissions to the regulatory changes required to favor certain modes depending on the territory or the necessity to fund decarbonized solutions, especially in areas where no alternative to cars exist... While the goal is clear, the path to take to reach it remains to be defined.

At an event organized by the lab recherche environnement for the publication of the Construction21 "Decarbonized Mobilities" dossier, we offered a range of solutions that will allow  this radical transformation of mobility to take place. Disciplines as different as transport organization, economics, and land use planning will play an essential role in decarbonizing mobility, all this without underestimating the social challenge of getting this transition to be accepted by citizens, a prerequisite for its success. – Camille Combe, Project Manager

Camille Combe at an event organized by the lab recherche environnement
Watch the video (in French)

No time to read? La Fabrique de la Cité has got you covered.

WILL NEW YORK BOUNCE BACK? – Can New York’s population rebound? With 126,000 fewer inhabitants, the Empire State has experienced the most important population decline in the US as a result of the pandemic. But, according to Joseph Salvo, New York’s City Chief demographer, the Big Apple could quickly rebound with the recovery of service industries (food, etc.). However, Joseph Salvo underlines the necessity for New York to deploy a strong affordable housing strategy to continue to attract a population that is essential to the city. – Camille Combe

Related: our report on affordable housing in growing European metropolises.


LONDON’S “TRAFFIC WARS” – The health crisis has led to the development of cycle paths and road closuresworldwide. In London, road closures are highly contested by motorists and part of “a wider scheme to tackle London’s growing congestion problems” and air pollution, a strategy also involving debated low-traffic neighborhoods. Even if the “right to take up space on urban streets” is now disputed, this was the case even before the pandemic: public spaces are both resource spaces and places of conflict between competing uses. – Sarah Cosatto, Research Officer

→ Related: our publications on the transformations of public spaces in metropolitan areas.


DECOUPLING WORK FROM CARBON – Teleworking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? The equation seems simple: more telework, less travel and less energy consumption in the office, and therefore fewer emissions. But it is often wrong: the greenhouse gas emissions avoided by companies are transferred to employees at home, while the development of telework can lead households to moves to the outskirts of the city and thus increase the distances travelled, cancelling out the effects of fewer trips. With the hybridisation of forms of work, the carbon footprint of companies will not be able to ignore that of their teleworking employees in the future. – Chloë Voisin-Bormuth, Director of Research and Studies


ABOUT BUILDING CODES – The International Code Council, which manages building codes in the United States, has stripped local governments of the right to vote on future energy efficiency building regulations. Local elected bodies have expressed concern that they will no longer be able to set building decarbonization objectives that are more ambitious than state targets. This comes at a time when energy renovation is a key issue in terms of energy savings, housing affordability, and health. – Sarah Cosatto

→ Related: our work about post-carbon cities.

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