The focus on electrifying personal vehicles misses the opportunity to transform urban transportation systems, reduce congestion, and make cities more affordable.
"Introducing electric vehicles (EVs) on a massive scale has often been framed as the solution to reducing passenger transport emissions," writes Vera O'Riordan, but electrification alone won't be enough to meet emissions reduction goals and keep global warming at less than 2 degrees, according to new research.
In addition, a population that continues to depend on cars poses significant problems for growing cities. With urbanization on the rise and space at a premium, we must reduce car ownership in cities if we are to keep them as affordable and accessible as possible. Huge amounts of land that could otherwise be used to house people or be dedicated to nature are still reserved for roads and car parks.
O'Riordan describes the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's recommended transportation planning approach, known as "Avoid, Shift, Improve." The framework advocates for policies that allow people to reduce their need to travel very far for their daily needs and outlines solutions for shifting necessary travel to more sustainable modes and improving energy sources for transportation.
Transportation advocates have similarly criticized policymakers' focus on electric vehicles, denouncing this car-centric approach as a perpetuation of our current, flawed systems of transportation and urging support for more efficient, multi-modal transit networks and safe infrastructure.
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