In many European cities such as London, Berlin, Brussels and others, motorists are continually being subjected to more stringent requirements to meet vehicle emission standards in a bid to improve overall air quality and GHG emissions of passenger cars, running the risk of paying fines or charges for non-compliance. But why pay so much attention to transport in particular?

Well, Malaysia’s Third National Communication and Second Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC has reported that the top sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the country are Energy (54%) and Transport (25%), with the next big contributor being Manufacturing with a mere 9% share of the emissions reported. By in large, making major changes in the way that energy, i.e. electricity is generated is out of reach to the common person.

Improving household energy efficiency helps, but how would an average person take control of the electricity usage in shopping malls for instance? Offices? Hospitals? Once again, out of reach. So, we focus our attention to the other big slice of the pie, transportation. Consider the case of the morning commute: If a person’s home-to-work trip is 20 km per day, then according to GreenTech Malaysia’s LCCF Calculator, this results in 5.2 kg of CO2 being emitted each time. Excluding weekends and holidays this trip emits 1.305 tonnes of CO2 a year, and that’s only one way!

If CO2 can be seen by the naked eye, this is what that amount would look like:

At this point there is a fair amount of guilt to be borne just from one’s morning commute; there has to be a better way to get about. In the context of Low Carbon Cities, this means re-examining urban transport.

Enter: Low Carbon Mobility.

Getting from point A to point B with minimal impact on the climate (and therefore ourselves). There is immense potential to see great success in reducing the carbon footprint of this industry, owing to the fact that these emissions are the result of the choices of the average person. In most situations, they are in control of where they want to go, how they get there, and how often they do it. As such there are numerous ways to enable people to make smarter, more sustainable choices when it comes to satisfying their mobility needs. However, they can all be derived from the simple concept presented below:

The A-S-I Model for Low Carbon Mobility

Avoid, Shift, Improve.

A 3-word mantra that will form the basis of any climate change mitigation action in the transportation sector. By using this approach to visualize the end goals of decarbonizing the movement of people, the ways in which to achieve them become clear. In the upcoming mobility series, the same mantra will be used to explore the different pathways in achieving low carbon mobility in cities.

Written by:
Shahab Paracha