Sustainable Mobility

Sustainability Jul 22, 2021

While working towards a carbon neutral society, a significant part that we tend to miss is sustainable mobility. Sustainable mobility is the need of the hour as vehicle emissions contribute to all the excess carbon the whole Amazon forest can filter out in a year. As the way development progressed in the last 100 years, it was marvelous, but it was made overlooking sustainability thus now it has led to overexploitation of resources and has caused harm to mother nature and humans. Overexploitation is visible from melting glaciers at the highest rate, unexpected changes in temperature during different seasons, global warming etc.

Let’s start by answering what sustainable mobility is?

Sustainable mobility refers to switching to a cleaner and efficient way of transport or way to commute. Many changes are being implemented to achieve this goal, like the odd-even rule in Delhi, switching to cleaner fuels like ethanol, hydrogen fuel cells and many more. But We conclude that despite the ensuing elevation of mobility into the holistic picture society, we still have not achieved a sustainable mobility system. Furthermore, more than ever, what is much needed now is a bold set of new narratives.

During the twentieth century, growth rates in population were remarkable—with the world’s population growing by a factor of about four. The growth in mobility was phenomenal too—with motorized passenger kilometers and tonne-kilometres by all modes increasing on average by a factor of about 100. However, whereas population growth shows signs of levelling-off, the change in mobility does not. In particular, the increase in mobility has been extensive during the last half-century. For example, in 1952, the average Norwegian travelled 5.5 km daily by motorized means. By 2000 this figure had increased to 48.7 km daily.

Transport is a significant consumer of energy and material resources. While transport and mobility are widely recognized as essential components in financial and economic development and integral towards the achievement of sustainable development, the adverse social and ecological effects of increased motorized mobility have been broadly acknowledged. Around 32.7% (2018) of the world’s final energy consumption is used for transport, mostly from non-renewable energy resources.

The production of motor vehicles requires large amounts of materials, e.g., ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Currently (2018), motor vehicle production consumes 7.4% and 3.2% ferrous metals (similar for non-ferrous) in the OECD and non-OECD countries(OECD - Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Demand for metals in these regions is expected to grow by a factor of 2.2 and 3.5, respectively, between 2018 and 2060.

These observations have led to the diagnosis of an unsustainable mobility system. Without significant changes in approaches and practices, the unsustainability of the transport system will continue well towards the end of this century.

The answer to this issue will require contribution from all sections of society. It should incorporate technological innovation, physical infrastructure and land use, social, cultural, and institutional changes. A fundamental rethinking of the entire system of personal mobility is necessary. Governments can play a huge part in advancing change: by invigorating mechanical advancement through guidelines, incentives and subsidies, by investing in the infrastructure, by providing leadership, and by getting sorted out and supporting a discussion with an emphasis on the framework in general.

From an innovative point of view, one of the much-examined arrangements is a hydrogen-controlled vehicle. We contend that the fate of this methodology is problematic and propose a significant re-outlining of the meaning of hydrogen: from viewing it as a solution to the personal mobility problem to seeing it as a medium for transporting and storing energy.


Team BITS, Shell Eco Marathon

A team of budding engineers across various disciplines with a shared passion for building the most fuel-efficient and futuristic car for Shell Eco-Marathon Asia. Interesting? Do reach out to know more

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