Permission for Emission

Permission for Emission

The ‘Circular Economy’, is a systemic view of production and consumption with the minimisation of resources, waste, emissions and energy consumption. Minimisation, rather than elimination, is a key point.

In psychology, the pursuit of perfection leads to problems of obsession (unreasonable effort for minimal return), inefficiency/ procrastination (delay) and morale (feelings from lack of achievement.)

In transport, there is an interest in zero emission technologies to counter urban pollution problems. Chasing zero emissions before reducing them with large-scale achievable measures, may mean we miss out on intermediate change.

Today, there is a prevalence of private ownership of transport, being that mass (trains, buses, taxis etc) or personal (cars, motorcycles etc.) Privately held transportation has been made with a view to an investment lifespan based on intended application, knowledge of performance, likely demand and the return on investment.

Why is this interesting?

Intervention in the transport system of any country is complex. Bringing in massive change through technology transition, legislation and changing user behaviour, is better pursued on two separate threads. An ‘available now’ thread and an ‘available tomorrow’ thread. This clarifies some of the political debate about the actions to take.

The ‘available now’ thread can tackle pollution problems through interventions such as low-emission engines (technology), congestion charges (existing legislation), limiting commercial vehicle access (new legislation) and time-based fare discounting (behaviour).

The ‘available tomorrow’ thread can look at the next technology generations like driverless cars, hybrid, and all-electric vehicles (technology).   It can also include significant reordering of transport through monetary interventions such as subsidizing research (policy) and early write off of technology investments in polluting platforms (policy).  Finally, it can look at behavioral changes to affect flows of people and their need to travel.

The ‘available tomorrow’ group also gives room to tackle systemic issues that impede change such as the paradox of reliance of local government on revenue from personal transport, e.g. parking fees and traffic fines while at the same time needing to reduce air pollution.

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Also published on Medium.

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