Convergence (2): The Energy Vector

The climate/transport link transits, unsurprisingly, by the energy sector.  Conceptually the relationships are very simple.  Reality is of course quite another thing.

Our immediate emergency target (climate) is to find ways to combine technologies and procedures which will allow us to virtually eliminate carbon-based fuels and impacts in a surprisingly short amount of time.[1]  There are two main ways of achieving this:

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Convergence (1). World Climate Emergency: Start Here

France Paris pollutoin alert - traffic 23mar15

Paris. Pollution alert emergency measures. 23 March 2015

We would be foolish, we would be irresponsible beyond pardon, if we do not start by understanding and accepting that the world climate emergency is the most important single policy issue  of our time.  All of our decisions and actions from this points on must be tempered by the planetary challenges that threaten us today: climate change, resource depletion, and species extinctions.

The climate emergency is here. The period of conceivable doubt is over.  It is real.  It is unarguable.  It is implacable. And it is threatening the near future of our planet. Climate is, or at least should be, the bottom line for all public policy decisions and investments from 2015 on — and certainly for policy decisions and investments in the transport sector which for once is well placed to make  a massive, and quite unexpected, near-term contribution.

The following is one of a cycle of short working summaries for presentation and discussion in a cycle of international  peer conferences and workshops, with a view to generate critical feedback on the principal ideas and arguments set out in support of a book in progress under the title: Convergence: Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities.  A future version of this essay is  to appear in its expanded final form as a chapter in the opening section of the book. We enthusiastically invite reader comment and critical views.

The on-going climate emergency sets the foundation, the compass, the map and the timetable for action in our sector. Getting the carbon, and with it fossil fuels, out of the sector is an important goal in any event. But there is far more to it than that.

At the same time GHG reduction works as a strong surrogate for just about everything to which we need to be giving priority attention to matters of mobility, efficiency and quality of life in our cities, chief among them the imperative need to cut traffic and its negative impacts.

Many fewer vehicles on the road moving at lower steady speeds means not only less pollution in all forms, but also reduced resource and energy consumption, fewer lives sacrificed and accidents, greatly reduced bills for infrastructure construction and maintenance, quieter and safer cities, more public space and the long list goes on.

What is so particularly striking about the mobility sector in this context is that there is a huge amount can be achieved (a) in relatively little time. And (b) at relatively low cost.

Moreover, sufficient experience has been acquired in leading cities around the world in the past two decades that we now know what works and what doesn’t.  And why. And how!

Beyond this, there is an important joker which also needs to be brought into the picture from the very beginning — namely that these reductions can be achieved not only without harming the economy or quality of life for the vast majority of all people.

To the contrary, sustainable transport reform can be part of a 21st century economic revival which places increased emphasis on utility, choice, equity, quality of life and a sense of community, and not necessarily on segregation, possession and products.

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Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Francis Eric Knight Britton is MD of EcoPlan International, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, sustainable development and democracy. His forthcoming book, “Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, is being presented, discussed and critiqued in a series of international conferences, master classes, peer reviews and media events over 2015. - - > More: “Happy city” at

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Why I am Reasonably Optimistic about the Sustainability Transition for 2015-2020

Shortlist of Transformative Realities and Trends

eb-tallinn-statementOne of the great recompenses of having watched the sustainable transportation and related technology developments evolve over the course of several decades, is that if one takes the time to step back and scan the evidence for pattern breaks, one can readily spot a certain number of fundamental structural changes, quite a few of which bode well for a different and better future for transport in and around cities. Here are a handful of the fundamental underlying changes which I have spotted over the last decades and which I would like to share with you this morning.

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Make Way for Buses – Delhi India

Campaign Meeting, Delhi India, Saturday, April 25

INdia Delhi Make way for buses campaign


World Streets strongly supports this important citizen initiative and congratulates the organizers.

* Details at

This is our most important meeting. It seems from statements by the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister that the government has made its mind on scrapping the BRT project. We invite ideas and suggestions on what the campaign should do now to prevent this, and to take the conversation on improving public & non-motorised transport in the city of Delhi forward.

The draft agenda of the meeting is:

1. Review until here
2. Meeting the government – what’s our strategy
3. Seems like they have decided that they want to scrap the BRT – should we hit the streets?
3.1 Parcha
3.2 Cycle Rally
3.3 Signatures by people on their bus tickets, to support our charter of demands, which we submit to the Delhi government (We will have to collect signatures on bus tickets when people disembark)
3.4 Photos from the streets which we share on social media
3.5 Charts and graphs for social media
4. Anything else

We invite you to come. As always, we promise snacks, and since summer is here, lots of cold water. See you!

If you have trouble reaching the venue, use the google pin: (if you are still lost, call Aashish at 9871116763)

About the editor:

gravatar_profile who=”worldstreets”]

Editorial: World Transport Policy and Practice. Vol. 21, No.2

Little girl in trafficThis issue of World Transport Policy and Practice marks the migration of the journal and its associated web site to a new location.  The new web site address is:

The new site will also contain information from our US partners, Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities Research & Policy Institute and occasional announcements about new books and resources that will assist the global community seeking to accelerate the transition to a genuinely sustainable transport future.  This transition is now more urgently needed than ever and future issues of the journal will try very hard to communicate the urgency and practicality of this transition to those who make the decisions.

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penang skycab - reversed
* See article in today’s The Star Online at Source:

There are two things that are badly wrong with this proposal.

The first, and by far the easiest to deal with, is that it is a silly, amateurish and quite inappropriate mobility project, a waste of taxpayer money, unacceptably ad hoc and a waste of valuable time (in that it distracts attention and resources from the real challenges). Every international transportation professional with a serious education in the field has known that for the last two decades– other of course than those who just love this kind of technology and/or are in the hire of the eventual suppliers. So off it goes.

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