Pros & Cons Of Sustainable Transportation

In this guide, we outline some of the pros and cons of sustainable transport.

This guide is complementary to our previous guide on the basics of sustainable transport (what it is, examples, and so on).

 

Summary – Pros & Cons Of Sustainable Transport

Pros 

There’s many different potential solutions that can be implemented to make transport more sustainable

Can potentially help address environmental issues

Can potentially help address resource management issues

Can potentially help address social and human health issues

Progress has been made on some measures of increased transport sustainability

 

Cons 

Some might debate what metric/s in transport sustainability are most important to improve

No one solution is a ‘magic bullet solution’ – all potential solutions have tradeoffs or potential issues they also present

Economic viability can be a major barrier 

Building new infrastructure, transitioning to new infrastructure, and retrofitting infrastructure can be an issue 

There can be a range of technical, practical and logistical limitations and challenges

There can be limitations in terms of where cities are located, and how they have been planned/their existing layout

Transport is getting less sustainable according to some sustainability measurements/stats

External factors like population growth can present an issue

 

Pros Of Sustainable Transport

There’s many different potential solutions that can be implemented to make transport more sustainable

These include but aren’t limited to more walking and cycling, cleaner energy/fuel used in vehicles, new vehicle types and technology, and more.

 

Can potentially help address environmental issues

These issues include but aren’t limited to greenhouse emissions and air pollution

 

Can potentially help address resource management issues

This includes but isn’t limited to better managing the use of non renewable fossil fuels like oil, and using more renewable resources like sun and wind.

 

Can potentially help address social and human health issues

This includes but isn’t limited to human health conditions contributed to by air pollution.

 

Progress has been made on some measures of increased transport sustainability

This includes but isn’t limited to fuel use or fuel efficiency per capita in some cities across th world

 

Cons Of Sustainable Transport

Some might debate what metric/s in transport sustainability are most important to improve

For example, some might say it’s most important to pursue the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, whilst others might say it’s most important to reduce ambient air pollution

 

No one solution is a ‘magic bullet solution’ – all potential solutions have trade offs, and may even introduce new issues/problems

A good example of this is electric cars.

Whilst electric cars do present some solutions, they also have some tradeoffs and new problems they present.

Two potential issues with electric cars are a) in terms of fuel, they are only as clean as the source they are getting their electricity from, and b) the waste disposal or recycling of electric car batteries still has some potential problems 

 

Economic viability can be a major barrier 

Economic viability issues can occur across several different factors.

These include but aren’t limited to cost to buy, cost to produce, supply side economics and demand side economics.

Solutions have got to be affordable, but also be economically competitive.

Consumers, businesses and governments may not have the funds in some instances to pursue some solutions. 

 

Building new infrastructure, transitioning to new infrastructure, and retrofitting infrastructure can be an issue 

Existing infrastructure is mainly in place for petroleum and internal combustion vehicles.

As one example, hydrogen fuel cell cars need many more refuelling stations and a way to transport hydrogen before hydrogen fuel cell vehicles becomes feasible on a mass scale. 

 

There can be a range of technical, practical and logistical limitations and challenges

These limitations can be across many different facets of transport. 

Just a few might include the performance, capability and effectiveness of a mode of transport, time lag in investing in solutions and them actually being implemented, scaling production, and more.

 

There can be limitations in terms of where cities are located, and how they have been planned/their existing layout

Transport in cities depends in some capacity on the layout of the city, and how much future layout might be able to change.

Some cities might be mostly locked into the current public transport infrastructure and roads they have, just as one example.

 

Transport is getting less sustainable according to some sustainability measurements/stats

Such as some measurements/stats that indicate the total number of vehicles on roads is increasing annually in some cities, and the total distance being driven globally is increasing (despite fuel efficiency improvements)

 

External factors like population growth can present an issue

Population growth for example puts more demand on the sale of private cars, which can result in more cars on the road and more miles being driven per year in total.

 

Sources

1. http://www.earthtimes.org/encyclopaedia/environmental-issues/sustainable-transport/

2. https://medium.com/@djjmilner/how-sustainable-transport-can-save-the-world-f2f64517dc52

3. https://www.vaughan.ca/projects/projects_and_studies/sustainable_transportation/Pages/default.aspx#:~:text=Sustainable%20Transportation%20refers%20to%20any,car%20sharing%2C%20and%20green%20vehicles.

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_transport

5. Rodrigue, J-P et al. (2020) The Geography of Transport Systems, Hofstra University, Department of Global Studies & Geography, Available at https://transportgeography.org/contents/chapter4/transportation-sustainability-decarbonization/

6. https://bettermeetsreality.com/sustainable-transport-what-it-is-types-examples/

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