VUB professor on mobility: ‘Now is the time to invest’
Cathy Macharis, professor of sustainable mobility and logistics at the Brussels University VUB, published her new book ‘Met een factor 8 naar de mobiliteit van de toekomst’ last week. She urges everybody to make the transition to sustainable mobility as soon as possible.
Most important to reach this goal are further enlarged investments in public transport but also a form of intelligent road-pricing. In her new book, she points out eight essential steps in this transition.
In Dutch, the eight steps all start with character V. To summarize in English, the actions we have to take: signal the opportunities, avoid a too significant influence of the car, shift to public transport, make all transport forms cleaner, accelerate the transition, link the different actors, change the attitudes and, last but not least, love what you are doing.
“This is an important moment to make a shift toward environmentally friendly transport modes,” says Macharis. Walking and biking are more popular, an increasing number of people are (sometimes) teleworking, people are sharing modes of transport.
For public transport, the pandemic has been a blow,” admits the professor. “But reports tell us that a limited number of contaminations occur on public transport. I trust we will forget our fear and learn again about the importance of public transport.”
Don’t punish, stimulate
Macharis doesn’t want to punish the people who are slow learners. On the contrary, she wants to see as many stimuli as possible. Smart road-pricing can be such a stimulus, but also the sector of the company car, where electrifying goes at a much quicker pace.
To do this, political choices have to be made. You can’t change if you don’t foresee the tools to realize this. This needs a coherent climate and energy plan to be implemented and reinforced.
To reach our climate goals in 2050, one of the sectors where we must act as soon as possible is the transport sector. “The transport of goods and persons now accounts for 32% of all CO2 emissions. Before 2030, we have to reduce person transport by 42%, the transport of goods by 3%.”
The last percentage doesn’t seem very ambitious, but if we do nothing, the emissions of freight transport will increase by 18%. “The transition to electricity is not evident when we talk trucks,” adds Macharis.
“For personal transport, we have many more opportunities. It’s a pity that transport by ship or rail is stagnating at around 10%. In practice, we see that it’s much more difficult to find technological solutions to make long-haul transport greener.”