A road map for greener transport

Jan 15, 2010
A road map for greener transport
The report suggests downscaling large, inefficient vehicles

(PhysOrg.com) -- An Oxford University study says the best way to reduce emissions in the short term is a 'drastic downscaling of both size and weight' of conventional petrol and diesel cars.

The research by Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment suggests that we should not rely on manufacturers or battery-powered vehicles in the next decade.

The report ‘Future of Mobility Roadmap’ assesses the potential for low carbon on land, by air and sea. It finds that electric and hydrogen vehicles are likely to remain niche products for many years because of limited battery life and the high cost of platinum, which is needed for the catalysts in hydrogen fuelled cars.

The study editor Sir David King and lead author Dr Oliver Inderwildi urge the government to impose higher taxes on drivers of large, inefficient vehicles and reinvest the money in better public transport and measures to get more people cycling and walking.

Dr Inderwildi says: ‘There is ample opportunity for emissions reductions by further improvements of currently available technology combined with a change in user habits.’

Rather than rely on the manufacturers to provide the ‘silver bullet’ solution to cut transport emissions, the report recommends behavioural change, urging consumers to influence manufacturers through their buying power. Manufacturers are more likely to produce smaller vehicles if customers opt not to buy larger, heavier vehicles with higher .

Better technology could significantly cut emissions from aircraft and shipping but incentives and regulation will be needed to encourage users to switch to low-carbon forms of transport, says the report.

It highlights algae-based biofuels as a means of significantly cutting transport emissions in the future and points out the limitations of biofuels as an alternative because of land shortages and food security concerns. First generation biofuels, derived from food stocks, ‘have proved the viability of such fuels, but remain a local solution, as in Brazil,’ it says.

Dr Inderwildi sees electric and diesel rail systems as the way forward in bringing down transport emissions but says there are disadvantages in the resulting infrastructure costs and lack of flexibility in route planning. Even so, reducing the carbon footprint of cars and replacing domestic flights with high speed rail could still produce ‘drastic emissions savings’.

The study warns that action must be taken immediately to have any impact on climate change because of the long lifetime of transport fleets and subsequent delays in technological impact.

‘Many technological options are already available and, in combination with infrastructure investments, [will] support the economy, reduce greenhouse gas and provide other long-term benefits,’ says the report.

Explore further: Halliburton pays $1.1 bn for Gulf of Mexico BP spill

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Fuel for thought' on transport sector challenges

Jul 11, 2008

The report: Fuel for thought – The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities addresses two serious issues – the need to dramatically reduce the transport sector's greenhouse gas emissions ...

Pricing can cut CO2 emissions from electric generators

Apr 28, 2008

Levying a price on carbon dioxide released by electric generators could considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions — even before the deployment of any environmentally friendly technology — according to scientists in ...

Biodiesel won't drive down global warming

Apr 23, 2007

EU legislation to promote the uptake of biodiesel will not make any difference to global warming, and could potentially result in greater emissions of greenhouse gases than from conventional petroleum derived diesel. This ...

Recommended for you

Halliburton pays $1.1 bn for Gulf of Mexico BP spill

6 hours ago

Oil services company Halliburton said Tuesday it would pay a $1.1 billion settlement over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout that led to the United States' most disastrous oil spill.

Underwater grass comeback bodes well for Chesapeake Bay

7 hours ago

The Susquehanna Flats, a large bed of underwater grasses near the mouth of the Susquehanna River, virtually disappeared from the upper Chesapeake Bay after Tropical Storm Agnes more than 40 years ago. However, ...

Clean air halves health costs in Chinese city

10 hours ago

Air pollution regulations over the last decade in Taiyuan, China, have substantially improved the health of people living there, accounting for a greater than 50% reduction in costs associated with loss of life and disability ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
not rated yet Jan 18, 2010
Another idiot study that fogot to read up on Climategate. There is no Man Made Global Warming.

Also rail systems are the most inefficient means of mass transportation in the US. The cost of putting rail tracks down, the destruction of properties, and the fixed nature of rails, make the system inflexable. Better to use bus.