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Concept Note – Green Primary Iron production in South Africa could support local development and global decarbonisation
How to structure the public debate on the low-carbon future of passenger transport?
A key challenge for organizing debates around these alternative visions is that they are very difficult to contrast and compare in the light of common public questions and to assess against their consistency with all national objectives.
This issue analyses how building consistent long-term pathways for the low-carbon future of the passenger transport sector and making them comparable in a transparent manner are key challenges for structuring productive public debates.
Beyond emission targets: how to decarbonize the passenger transport sector?
Pathways to deep decarbonization of the passenger transport sector in Japan
Two Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) scenarios are structured to investigate the way in which different technical and social transformations can reduce the transport-related energy use and GHG emissions. An advanced technological (AdvancedTech) scenario focuses mainly on the technological innovations and transformations in the transport and energy sector, but does not give consideration to social and behavioural factors. The GHG emission reduction target under continued economic growth is achieved by large-scale energy demand reduction by end users and decarbonization of power generation. On the other hand, the balanced scenario is structured with the objective of developing a long-term strategy to achieve a drastic GHG emission reduction in transport sector by means of a balanced behavioural and technological changes. Compared with the focus of technological development in the AdvancedTech scenario, the balanced scenario is aimed to explore the maximum reduction potential of GHG emissions from an integrated and combined perspective of both technological innovation and social transformations.
In the AdvancedTech scenario, although the average annual distance travelled per capita increases during 2010 to 2050, the average individual emissions from passenger transport decrease over this period, thanks to the improvement of energy efficiency and emissions intensity. The large electrification in transport sector is the main contributor of emission reduction, followed by the strong decarbonization in the power generation sector through a massive deployment of CCS and renewable energies. The share of renewable energies and CCS-equipped plants reaches high proportions of total electricity generation, thus the GHG emissions in transport sector can be largely reduced by the shift to low-carbon electricity. In the balanced scenario, the emission trajectory shows much lower values than those of the AdvancedTech scenario, thanks to the decreasing individual mobility and modal shift from carbon-intensive modes towards low-carbon modes of transport. Social and behavioural changes in demography, urban structures, land use, lifestyle, infrastructure can effectively contribute to further reduce the GHG emissions above the technological transformations.
A roadmap for moving to a deep decarbonized transport sector is presented by combining low-carbon policy initiatives and measures in consideration of both technological and social transformations such as environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies, CCS-equipped power plants, compact city, mixed and intensified land use, transit-oriented development, pedestrian-friendly street design, lifestyle change, and so forth. In order to alleviate the risks that the deep decarbonization pathway fails and the targets are not achieved as planned, it is necessary to consider which policies are the first priorities for the near future. Since the deep electrification and CCS deployment cannot be achieved in the short-term, the efficiency improvements in conventional internal combustion engine-driven vehicles and aircraft deserve more attentions in the near-term. Social transformations such as low-carbon urban reorganization, teleworking, online shopping also can be effective within a short period.
Pathways to deep decarbonization of the passenger transport sector in the United Kingdom
A key challenge for transport policy in the UK is the Government’s own domestic climate legislation, which mandates “at least” an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2050. Accounting for various demographic, economic, and technological trends as well as the pattern of demand across different sectors, past analysis reveals that achieving this target translates into a requirement for the carbon intensity of transport to decline by around 70% on average by 2050. This implies a need for radical solutions over the next 20-30 years in order to achieve the kind of structural changes in the energy system that can meet the goal of deep decarbonisation.
The analysis presented in this report is intended to support engagement with transport experts and decision makers regarding actionable policies towards transport emissions reductions in the UK context. Rather than pursuing a narrow focus on technological solutions alone, the analysis explicitly seeks to uncover and explore other important determinants of transport demand and emissions such as changes to demographic and economic structure, urban planning, culture, lifestyles and values. This is because past research and engagement with energy system stakeholders in the UK shows clearly that experts view the social dimension of energy use to be at least as important as technological change.
We describe two new scenarios that provide distinctive visions of how passenger transport could evolve in the future, driven by rapid technological progress, changes to societal mobility trends, and the requirement to transition towards low or net-zero energy systems. Both of the scenarios presented achieve similar levels of decarbonisation by 2050, but take very different pathways towards that destination. The two scenario narratives, which focus on passenger transport, are:
- Freedom to Roam (F2R): a future where new communication and transport technologies reinforce existing societal tendencies towards maximizing individual comfort, convenience and autonomy, and economic activity remains concentrated in existing centres of power.
- No Place Like Home (NPLH): a future characterized by a focus on localism, where new technologies are harnessed for the purposes of strengthening communities, facilitating the sharing of pooled resources and assets, and for diversifying regional economic activities so that multi-polar centres of education, leisure and commerce emerge across the country.
These two scenarios embody quite different visions of the passenger transport future. F2R is very much supply side focused with patterns of mobility demand remaining similar to those seen today, rooted in the development of new technologies, notably autonomous vehicles, that strengthen the motivation for car use, due to convenience and meeting the demands of mobile lifestyles. NPLH, on the other hand, sees technology development shift mobility trends in another direction, towards a sharing services model that is also built around greater use of other modes of transport, particularly in metropolitan areas.
For both scenarios, a shift to electro-mobility is key to keeping emissions reductions in line with climate policy targets. This underscores the importance of UK action to ensure that a zero-carbon electricity supply is achieved in the 2030s. For mobility transitions to develop in the direction of the future imagined in the F2R scenario, an essential precondition would be the successful early development of highly autonomous vehicles (i.e. SAE J3016 Levels 4 and 5). Mobility transitions in the direction of the NPLH scenario may require government to take a more active role in regional spatial planning. Finally, both scenarios arrive in 2050 with the transport sector emissions being dominated almost entirely by international aviation emissions. Achieving currently legislated national targets for 2050 requires that further options in both energy supply and demand will need to be explored if the UK is to move towards a net-zero emissions position in line with the Paris Agreement in the second half of the century.