Question: What initiatives, policies and technologies can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector?
Submit proposals: https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1303801
Deadline: Monday, May 23, 2016 at 19:59:59 PM Eastern Standard Time
Judging Criteria & Prizes: See below.
The transportation sector includes the movement of people and goods by cars, buses, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, and other modes, including non-motorized vehicles. Each of these modes connects spatially dispersed locations, as themselves interact with many disciplines of the CoLab, including materials, energy supply, industry, waste management, agriculture and forestry, etc. An efficient transportation system is critical for the functioning of economies.
The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are CO2 emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans. These sources account for over half of the emissions from the sector. With 75 percent of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 yet to be built, actions taken right now will shape urbanization patterns and quality of life for decades. Time is of the essence.
Key Issues in this sector
Widespread adoption of information technologies, increased vehicle automation, growing electrification of vehicle drive trains, and emergence of the sharing economy in general and shared mobility services in particular may generate a disruptive change in the way we travel. In addition, there are signs of possible change in values and travel behavior of the Millennials. Many open questions remain.
- Although they are at different stages of life, Millennials and Baby Boomers seem to be attracted to cities, but the former don’t necessarily want to own a car. Access may have become more important than ownership to younger people. But are these patterns to continue once Millennials create their family? To what extent can the observed changes be attributed to the Millennials as compared to the increased use of information technology?
- Work patterns have begun to change just has other activities (such as shopping). How can transportation adapt in a sustainable way? How are technology, policy and behavior change intertwined?
- The sharing economy is already transforming the mobility landscape globally. It could increase the sustainability of urban mobility systems by pulling people from their own vehicle into shared taxis, or prevent other travelers from continuously relying on mass transit or non-motorized modes.
- The surge of data-technology, open data and open-source ecosystems and how they can improve transport planning, facilitate management and provide a better experience for transport users.
- The emergence of self-driving cars and their impact on transportation patterns, city planning and carbon emissions. If automated vehicles are used primarily in shared mobility scenarios, they could greatly reduce the environmental cost of motorized transport; on the other hand, the possibility of “empty trips” with zero-occupancy cars could exacerbate the environmental costs of automobility. Privately owned automated vehicles could lead to massive land-use changes due to greatly extended commuting distances, which could result in an unprecedented increase in energy use and emissions.
- The overall carbon footprint of each mode of transportation (from cradle to grave including changes in land-use) and the overall costs/benefits analysis (productivity, congestion, health…) are also being studied.
- The future and role of electricity storage applied to transportation, which could increase the adoption of battery electric vehicles and eventually make commercial electric aircraft a reality, is also of great interest.
Additional Guidance from the Advisors & Fellows
Actions to address CO2 emissions involve a mix of social and physical activities. For instance, proposals for the transportation sector could consider the following actions:
- Increasing propulsion system efficiency and/or reducing vehicle losses, i.e. driving or flight resistance.
- Switching from gasoline or diesel to alternative, low-carbon fuels.
- Encouraging consumers to buy smaller or more lightweight vehicles.
- Encouraging manufacturers to diversify their product lines.
- Reducing vehicle travel by encouraging behavioral changes, such as carpooling or mode-shifts or by reducing the need to travel in the first place.
In this short list of examples, numbers 1 and 2 involve technology improvements for vehicles, or “physical actions”: the United States Environmental Protection Agency's CAFE regulations can help speed the development and introduction of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Number 3 is mostly a “social” approach, involving government policy aimed at inducing individuals to change their habits, but can be aided by physical infrastructure such as HOV lanes, mobile phone apps (carpooling) or public transit terminals (for mode-shifts). Number 4 asks the private sector to work collaboratively with government to create a paradigm shift in industry and federal incentives. Number 5 addresses policy actions including land-use, transport planning or economic incentives have consequences for transport activity, energy use, and emissions. Proposals that aim to increase mobility in concert with creating greater access are strongly encouraged.
Judges will be asked to evaluate proposals on the following criteria: feasibility, novelty, impact and presentation quality. Winning proposals will be especially strong in at least one of the first three dimensions, and also well presented. For details about the judging criteria, click here.
Top proposals in each contest will be awarded...
Judges’ Choice Winner – Strongest overall
Popular Choice Winner – Received the most votes during the voting period
Impact Award – Largest impact and highly feasible
Novelty Award – Most innovative
The Judges’ and Popular Choice Winners will be invited to MIT to present their proposal, enter the Climate CoLab Winners Program and be eligible for the $10,000 Grand Prize. All award winners will receive wide recognition and visibility by the MIT Climate CoLab.
All Finalists are asked to submit a 3-minute video outlining their proposal. Videos will be featured on the MIT Climate CoLab website and Winners will show their videos at the conference.
If your proposal is included in a top global climate action plan, you will receive CoLab Points, which are redeemable for cash prizes.
British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association: http://www.bcsea.org/learn/get-the-facts/energy-use/transport
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe - Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation for International Transport Networks http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/wp5/publications/climate_change_2014.pdf
The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) and Michelin Challenge Bibendum (MCB) have taken the initiative for the PPMC. http://www.slocat.net/ppmc
Eltis is an online portal launched by the Intelligent Energy Europe program focused on urban mobility. http://www.eltis.org/mobility-plans/city-database
Land Transport and How to Unlock Investment in Support of "Green Growth” http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf
International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), 2012. Global Transportation Energy and Climate Roadmap: http://www.theicct.org/global-transportation-energy-and-climate-roadmap
International Energy Agency, 2013. World Energy Outlook: http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/publications/weo-2013/
Kamargianni, Maria et al. 2015. Feasibility Study for “Mobility as a Service” concept in London FS-MaaS Project – Final Deliverable, UCL Energy Institute and Department for Transport: https://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/energy/docs/fs-maas-compress-final
US Sustainability Directors Network: http://usdn.org/home.html?returnUrl=%2findex.html
Mineta Transportation Institute, February 2012. "Integration of Bicycling and Walking Facilities into the Infrastructure of Urban Communities."
Mineta Transportation Institute, March 2010. "Carsharing and Public Parking Policies: Assessing Benefits, Costs, and Best Practices in North America."
Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, University of California - Berkeley, August 2009. "Electric Vehicles in the United States: A New Model with Forecasts to 2030."
Union of Concerned Scientists, April 2012. "State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings across the United States" Norton, Emily and Jenny Rushlow, March 2013. "Deploying Eletric Vehicles in MA: A Policy Overview."
Federal Transit Administration, August 2011. "Flooded Bus Barns and Buckled Rails: Public Transportation and Climate Change Adaptation."
Sims Gallagher, Kelly and Erich Muehlegger, Feburary 2008. "Giving Green to Get Green: Incentives and Consumer Adoption of Hybrid Vehicle Technology."
Schrank, David, Bill Eisele, and Tim Comax, December 2012. "Urban Mobility Report" Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read