A new study – A Global High Shift Scenario – from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) finds that by significantly reducing reliance on traditional motor vehicle use and substituting that with more air-friendly means of transport; namely, walking, biking and public transit, such associated benefits as saving money, curbing pollution and saving lives could be had.
The ITDP and UC Davis in its “New Study: Global Shift from Cars to Mass Transit Can Save More Than US$100 Trillion and Eliminate 1,700 Megatons of CO2 Pollution by 2050” Urban Transportation Systems an Emerging Priority Ahead of UN Climate and Sustainable Development Meetings press release insist “More than $100 trillion in cumulative public and private spending, and 1,700 megatons of annual carbon dioxide (CO2)—a 40 percent reduction of urban passenger transport emissions—could be eliminated by 2050 if the world expands public transportation, walking and cycling in cities, according to a new report released by the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy,” and then went on to assert, “Further, an estimated 1.4 million early deaths could be avoided annually by 2050 if governments require the strongest vehicle pollution controls and ultralow-sulfur fuels, according to a related analysis of these urban vehicle activity pathways by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) included in the report.”
Also in the study, calculated were 2050 CO2 levels under both “business-as-usual” and “High Shift” scenarios, according to information brought forward in the release.
“Business as usual” is just what it implies – a status quo, unchanged scenario. But, the ITDC and UC Davis in the release noted “where governments significantly increased rail and clean bus transport, especially Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and helped urban areas provide infrastructure to ensure safe walking, bicycling and other active forms of transportation,” such as through increased divestment in road-based infrastructure improvement projects in addition to those that promote automobile use; for example, parking facilities, this is some of what is involved in the referenced “High Shift” scenario.
Moreover, the study partners explained, “Under this High Shift, not only would CO2 emissions plummet, but the net financial impact of this shift would be an enormous savings over the next 35 years, covering construction, operating, vehicle and fuel-related costs.”
Key also is sustainable transportation as an economic development engine.
“‘Today and out to 2050, lower income groups will have limited access to cars in most countries under almost any scenario; improving access to modern, clean, high-capacity public transport is crucial,’ said report co-author [and UC Davis, Institute of Transportation Studies’ NextSTEPS program co-director] Lew Fulton.”
But it goes beyond just this as ITDC and UC Davis in the release further relate that over 3.2 million annual premature mortalities are directly linked to air pollution. “Exposure to vehicle tailpipe emissions is associated with increased risk of early death from cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer, as well as respiratory infections in children. Car and diesel exhaust also increases the risk of non-fatal health outcomes, including asthma and cardiovascular disease.”
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Image above: U.S. National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute