Apr 25, 2017
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The cities in which many of us live, work, and socialize are changing. There are now 28 megacities with populations of 10 million or more, and an additional 13 cities are expected to evolve into megacity status by 2030.
As anyone that lives or works in a major city can attest, rapid population growth can place extraordinary pressure on transportation networks. Roads are more congested, buses and trains become more crowded, and journeys take longer. If cities are to keep growing, city leaders must ensure that their citizens are able to travel freely and easily.
They must also consider the impact transportation has on the environment and citizens’ health. According to the International Energy Agency, transport emissions have grown more than 50% since 1990. It’s no surprise, then, that city leaders have a growing sense of responsibility around the long-term effects of air pollution. And our national leaders have committed to reducing CO2 emissions through The Paris Agreement signed in 2015.
The ultimate goal is to create a city where millions of people can travel quickly, efficiently, and without doing harm to the environment or themselves — essentially, a zero-emissions transportation solution.
Electric vehicles, autonomous cars, zero emissions public transport, ride sharing, financial penalties, zero-emissions zones, and more are all being considered or actively promoted as part of the solution. However, whether there’s an ideal approach — and what that might be — remains unclear.
To better understand where we stand globally on the road to sustainable urban mobility, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. sponsored an Urban Mobility Index created by Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). The Index tracks the progress of 35 major cities from around the world in their efforts to reduce emissions. Which city will be the first to eliminate all emissions from public and private transportation? Keep reading.
Here’s what we learned:
- Oslo is set to be the first city to cut all emissions from its transportation network closely followed by other European cities such as London and Amsterdam. Their position as leaders stems from common traits in their commitment to the zero emissions agenda and a holistic approach to achieving it. Citizens are encouraged to travel using more environmentally-friendly transport like electric vehicles and green public transport. This is done via a range of incentives, penalties, and investments in making alternatives practical options compared to polluting vehicles.
- Other European cities, including Zurich, Copenhagen, and Madrid, are also clear leaders in deploying an emissions reduction strategy thanks to their advanced economic development, recent decades of investment in sustainable infrastructure, and a sophisticated approach that combines a broad range of initiatives.
- North American cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, are being held back by a love of petrol cars and reluctance among leaders to use strong regulation and penalties to change behaviour — tactics already common in Europe.
- Asian cities, like Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, and Singapore, are the most ambitious in the solutions they imagine. They’re investing heavily in visionary technologies, but face significant challenges to reduce their current high levels of congestion and pollution.
According to the Index, where 100% means a city is operating a completely zero emissions transportation network, the top and bottom five cities are:
The research makes it clear that though it’s impossible to say exactly what the first zero emissions city will look like, with so many approaching the goal, there are many key learnings that can be shared.
Its leaders will have to be fully committed to change. It will invest heavily in sustainability. It will use evolving technology, like driverless cars and electric vehicles, alongside the public and private infrastructure to make using them practical.
Most of all, it will have citizens that embrace alternative, sustainable transport.
Methodology behind the report
The Urban Mobility Index relies on an indexing approach to establish which city transportation solution is the closest to becoming emissions free, with 100% indicating the goal has been achieved. The overall index score for each city is based on the city’s performance against 20 indicators, divided into three overarching sub-indices to assess a city’s performance in one of three major areas deemed necessary for achieving emissions free status.
The Status Quo sub-index considers the cities’ current performance in terms of various transportation and emission-related considerations. The Conditions for Change sub-index examines how a city is encouraging its residents to adopt low and zero emissions vehicles, or utilize sustainable travel alternatives. The Preparedness for the Future sub-index looks at what visionary measures cities are implementing to ensure they minimize or eliminate emissions from transportation in the coming years.
The index considers 35 cities from across the world. The included cities were selected based on their population, total GDP, GDP per capita, inclusion in a broader set of literature considering environmental sustainability, and pollution levels.
Get a full copy of the report.