Mobility supports key human and economic activity in our systems. In the context of climate change, it is a major sector given that over 95 per cent of the energy used for most transport is still powered by fossil fuels.
Not only are we talking about our vehicles and public transportation, but also the freights, maritime and air fleets that keep us connected and supply chains afloat. Mobility is what allows a package delivery to arrive the next day on our doorstep. It’s how we commute to and from work and school. Our daily lives revolve around the efficiency of these connected routes and modes of transport.
But the luxury of on-demand mobility comes at a price. Everything from air travel to ground shipping to ridesharing contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants like nitrogen dioxide. Their effects make transport the EU’s second-most polluting sector, claiming 28% of total CO2 emissions.
Even with Green Deal goals in place that aim to reduce 90 percent of emissions by 2050, the EU’s transport sector continues to report around 0.8 percent growth in metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) every year.
The United Nations has outlined pathways to decarbonise land transport through upgraded vehicles, alternative fuels and improvements to infrastructure. It estimates that 85 per cent of the CO2 emission reductions needed to meet the 1.5 °C target can already be achieved with existing and emerging transport policies and technologies.
Mobility meets innovation
The transition to greener mobility alternatives continues to accelerate with the uptake of cleaner vehicles and alternative fuels. Many projects co-funded by EIT Climate-KIC are making headlines with their groundbreaking transportation solutions:
1. ClimAccelerator-supported start-up Zeleros is manufacturing the world’s fastest land transport system known as hyperloop vehicles while another accelerator programme graduate, Lilium, is poised to revolutionise sustainable, high-speed air mobility with its electric 7-seater jet prototype.
2. The Resilient, Net-Zero-Emissions Maritime Hubs Deep Demonstration works with a small cohort of European port authorities in Valencia (Spain) and Piraeus (Greece) and Cyprus Ministry of Shipping to demonstrate how ambitious maritime hubs can be catalysts for reversing the fast-growing emissions from international shipping and trade.
3. The Healthy, Clean Cities Deep Demonstration is working with 15 of the most ambitious mayors and municipalities in Europe to design portfolios of joined-up innovations capable of unlocking wholesale transformation across all city systems, including mobility.
When it comes to taking personal action, citizens have more power than they think. Making simple lifestyle changes can help reduce personal emissions and support a more sustainable planet. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) advises the following:
1. Keep or take up walking or cycling to work and opt for shared or public transport instead of driving.
2. Stay local and consider vacations close to home. Visit fewer places but stay longer in each.
3. Look for and ask about flexible working options to reduce your commute, such as working from home, video conferencing or later start times.
4. Swap options like electric vehicles, cleaner fuels and fewer kilometers to reduce your transport footprint.