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Climate is the Portal to New Mobility - I

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  • Eric Britton
    Tomorrow s feature for World Streets - For you guiding coments and suggestions Message to the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009: The climate agenda
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 13, 2009

      Tomorrow’s feature for World Streets – For you guiding coments and suggestions



      Message to the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009:

      The climate agenda is getting high political and media attention worldwide, and there are many important events scheduled for the months immediately ahead. That is good. But in our view the agenda for sustainable transport system reform at all levels is timid, incoherent and in large part irrelevant given the real priorities. Well, what is relevant then? How can we get the level of innovation and reform that is going to be critical in the years immediately ahead?


      “We have to reduce about 80% of our greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 to 15 years.” 

      -       President William Jefferson Clinton, in announcing the Clinton Climate Initiative in Los Angeles in August 2006


      A dozen things we know for sure about transport and climate that we would like to share with you in the run-up to Copenhagen:

      1.      Public policy is catastrophically underperforming in terms of technology and human impacts on climate, all sectors in.

      2.      President Clinton was unquestionably right when three  years ago he targeted: “80% GHG reductions . . . over the next 10 to 15 years”.

      3.      This level of aggressive response has however not been broadly picked up by most of the agencies, institutions and interests concerned, the great majority  of whom have tilted to a much longer, more leisurely, more passive conversion strategy. (Keynes was never righter in his "in the long run . . " statement than here.)

      4.      That is an enormous strategic and moral  enormous error and now needs to be corrected as a highest priority.

      5.      The transport sector, all in, accounts for on the order of 20 +/- 5% of greenhouse gas emissions

      6.      Our sector has one very special characteristic that is not generally appreciated, including by the experts -- and that is that of all the main sectors it is the easiest in which to achieve very high impact, near term results.

      7.      This being the case, we propose  that sustainable transport system reform be taken a very high priority in the climate policy debate, since we are well positioned to function as a sort of "learning system" for the rest.

      8.      Our responsibility in our sector is in the immediate term, i.e., targeting and attaining significant (two digit) decreases in the two to four years immediately ahead.

      9.      The main instrument of transport system reform lies in the strategic and radical reduction of motorized traffic (vehicle miles/kilometers travelled). This is 100% unambiguous. There is no other path.

      10.  Based on the results of the last years we are most demonstrably failing in this mission.

      11.  However, we know exactly how to achieve this.

      12.  Moreover these sharp and fast GHG reductions will serve us well on many other scores as well (fossil fuel reductions, stronger economies, improved mobility for all, health, life quality, economic renewal, more broadly beneficial technology progress, etc. You know the list by heart.)


      The trick is wise governance. The politics of transportation . And that is where all of us here come in. Let us write a joint letter to Copenhagen and all involved, and see if we can get a higher profile for the very short term reforms that we know to be possible in our sector. And so necessary.

      In a first instance kindly get in touch either via the Comment section that follows just below or if you prefer in private to editor@...  We can then organize it as we have done with the 99 supporting statements that have come in over the last two weeks, and make it broadly known. Our first step to Copenhagen.


      Will that work for you?


      Eric Britton



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