People all over the world are becoming more mindful of the importance of lowering their carbon footprints. Most people do basic activities such as shutting off lights as they leave a room or not keeping the water flowing while brushing their teeth. However, fewer people have taken the initiative to use alternative transportation. Sustainable transportation is characterized as any form of transportation that has little or no environmental impact. As a result, sustainable transportation covers a wider issue of transportation that has the least effect on societal, climate, fiscal, and environmental debates, as well as the potential to supply the source energy indefinitely. This paper aims to make a contribution to the understanding of these win-win possibilities by presenting the benefits associated with the adoption of sustainable transport policies and further explores tools and methodologies that can help practitioners in the assessment of sustainable development benefits.
Boren (69) acknowledges that the benefits of sustainable transportation go beyond just helping the environment; it can actually help the individual and the people around them. Ever increasing transport problems including carbon dioxide emissions and increasing gasoline prices are compelling governments to contemplate implementing better public transport means and systems in efforts to reduce the impact of declining oil economy on financial markets and environment. Other environmental, social and economic objectives can be achieved by use of low-carbon transport strategies including reducing parking and traffic congestion, saving consumers money, access to mobility, supporting economic development, reducing air and noise pollution and increasing public health and safety (Boren 67). Low-carbon transport does have significant and quantifiable co-benefits, based on case studies from Germany, Singapore, India and Colombia and Avoid Shift approaches. Currently available and cost effective measures can cut transport energy usage by 40-50% lower compared to 2010 demand (Yang 1158). Certain obstacles affect the exploitation of this potential considering the possible social, environmental and economic benefits of transport. The shift towards a low- carbon pathway of this sector can be a win-win opportunities situation for climate protection and local development goals.
Sustainability evaluation components include the particular vehicles used for road, water or air transport; the source of energy and infrastructure. Boren (71) highlights that another component for evaluation is pipeline transportation of oil and gas. Logistics, transit oriented development and transport operations are also involved in evaluation. Transportation sustainability is largely being measured by transportation system effectiveness and efficiency as well as climate and environmental impacts of the system. Temporary activity promotes incremental fuel efficiency improvement vehicle emissions control while long-term goals include migrating transportation from fossil-based energy to other alternatives such as renewable energy and resources. The entire life cycle of transport systems is subject sustainability and optimization.
Transport systems have significant impacts on the environment, accounting for between 20% and 25% of world energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission. The majority of the emissions, almost 97%, came from direct burning of fossil fuels (Yang 1154). Each year, 2.4 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution could be avoided. Particularly hazardous for health are emissions of black carbon, a component of particulate matter, which is a known cause of respiratory and carcinogenic diseases and a significant contributor to global climate change (Wee 23). The links between greenhouse gas emission and particulate matter make carbon transport an increasingly sustainable investment at local level-both by reducing emission levels and thus mitigating climate change; and by improving public health through better air quality
The environmental impacts of transport can be reduced by reducing the weight of vehicles, sustainable styles of driving, reducing the friction of tires, encouraging electric and hybrid vehicles, improving the walking and cycling environment in cities, and by enhancing the role of public transport, especially electric rail (Wee 18). The adoption of cleans fuels and vehicles including hybrid vehicles, biodiesel, sailing ships, electric vehicles, biogas/CNG, LPG, human-powered transport, hydrogen vehicles, bus ways, bikeways, railways, greenways and foreshore ways, animal powered transport can be a big step into the future a carbon fuel free transport (Boren 70).
Boren (68) suggests that collective transport system such as bus services, rail transport, public transport and access restrictions measures such as access management, car restricted zones/living streets, parking management, pedestrian zone, traffic calming/speed reduction also help boost the full implementation of sustainable transportation. Sustainable public transportation comes with a number of benefits.
One way that sustainable transportation helps individuals is by making them healthier, and not just in the “less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere” kind of way. Walking and cycling are types of transportation that fall under this umbrella. Cycling and walking have no effect on the environment, so they are environmentally friendly modes of sustainable transport. Even bussing and taking the train into work is better on a person’s health than driving your car. Less stress from road rage and more walking or cycling to bus stop mean that one can live a longer and healthier life.
Another little known fact is that sustainable transportation can save a person and their city money. An American citizen uses about four times as much energy as a European citizen, where sustainable transport widely used. This energy equates into dollars. In fact in New York City where this type of transportation is also the norm, citizens save $19 billion each year just from using public transport instead of cars (Boren 69).
Cities can also save money because most sustainable transport doesn’t cause wear to highways. In 2008 American transportation departments spent $63.2 billion on constructing and maintaining highways (Yang 1161). This number could be much lower if people used mass transit, car pools, walking and cycling to get around. Another great benefit is that sustainable transportation around a city can increase property values and encourage people to buy local, which will increase local food production.
With high fuel efficiencies of up to 94% by simultaneously generating heat and power, the power plants need much less fuel per kWh generated. In comparison, conventional power plants have an efficiency of around 40 % (Joshi 139). The use of this more sustainable system also lessens congestion and traffic in cities, which is good for cities and individuals. Less traffic means people can get where they need to be faster when using highway oriented mass transit like city buses (Boren 67). Once again, this is also a health benefit due to less stress on citizens. On top of these benefits less traffic also means fewer accidents.
One benefit that is desperately needed during the global recession is the creation of jobs through sustainable transportation. Mass transit and energy efficient cars require people working in construction, design, technology, maintenance and manufacturing, among other fields (Yang 1154). Simply adding to this transportation system can give thousands of people jobs that they desperately need. When people decide to get serious about transportation that helps the environment, they are getting serious about creating jobs as well. Waste the public perceives waste as a resource.re-use of wastes creates more jobs. However, the sustainable public transport means has certain social shortfalls. In this type of development, for example in bus and rail transport, the non-driver means of transport has much lower accessibility level and lacks travel choice. This has effect on both the equity and the efficiency of transport distribution and, thus, is socially unfair and inadequate (Boren 70).
New sustainable transportation methods are popping up every year. The amount of the population that recycles has significantly increased over the last forty years, so people are catching on to the necessity of lessening their impact on the earth. It usually takes years for people to catch onto new ways to help the environment, but since sustainable transportation helps the individual as well, it will hopefully catch on much quicker. Research and development of renewable energy sources will require increased funding commitments from municipalities already struggling to overcome their congestion and pollution problems
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