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What is Sustainable Mobility?
Blog...What is Sustainable Mobility?

What is Sustainable Mobility?

Net zero trajectory
little toy school bus
What is sustainable mobility, why is it important, is it the same thing as sustainable transportation, and how can the world shift towards the use and implementation of sustainable mobility?
little toy school bus

People in the world, quite literally, can’t get to where they want to go in life without actually getting there first – and that’s why sustainability mobility is becoming so important in the midst of climate change.

Transportation isn’t just a method of getting from one place to another, but serves as a way to help people achieve their life goals and perhaps even work to help the planet as a whole. This leaves transportation and sustainable mobility in itself as one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome as global surface temperatures continue to rise and countries begin to hunker down and tackle climate change. 

Sustainable mobility has proven a challenge as it seems more than one type of transportation is necessary in everyone’s day to day life: such as the use of cars, trains, buses, trucks – and more. All of these vehicles create an environmental impact and need to be addressed for sustainable mobility. 

What is sustainable mobility, why is it important, how is it different from sustainable transportation, and how can the world shift towards the use and implementation of sustainable mobility?

red racecar on bridge next to water

What exactly is sustainable mobility?

Sustainable mobility is the term used to refer to transportation from an environmental or ecological mindset. Ultimately, the goal for sustainable mobility is to mitigate the use of excessive fuel consumption and reduce emissions so that our ecosystems can replenish themselves. In some English-speaking countries like the U.K. or the United States, sustainable mobility is referred to as ‘green driving’ – making it a term used interchangeably with sustainable mobility. 

👉 One of the main goals of sustainable mobility is to make use of renewable energy sources or less carbon-intensive materials to ensure that transportation becomes more aligned with the current needs of climate change.

However, sustainable mobility doesn’t just refer to reducing emissions from transportation – but to help improve the accessibility of transportation for billions of people in the world. The difficult part is that sustainable mobility has to satisfy the needs of current and future generations, especially seeing as younger generations are increasingly worried and interested in climate change reform.

Sustainable mobility and sustainable transport has been defined differently by multiple official organizations and entities around the world. For instance, the European Union Council of Ministers of Transport explained that a sustainable transportation system will provide individuals and companies with access to basic transportation needs while also protecting the health of humans and our ecosystem. The European Union Council of Ministers of Transport also shared that sustainable mobility should promote equality and provide fair transportation to all.

The United Nations, on the other hand, has clarified sustainable transport to mean ensuring that services and infrastructure are up-to-date and can help support people with their transportation needs while still seeking to reduce the environmental impact created by transportation. The United Nations also explained that sustainable transport should help in the development of the country’s social and economic areas for current and future generations.

bus driving by fast in city at dusk

Are sustainable mobility and sustainable transportation the same thing?

It might seem like the two terms sustainable mobility and sustainable transportation are the same thing, but they aren’t the one and the same. Sustainable transport refers specifically to transportation that is low in emissions or creates less of an environmental impact than other types of common transportation – such as opting to take the subway to work instead of driving. Therefore, working towards sustainable transport refers to putting people first by providing society with healthier, cleaner, accessible, and more affordable means of transportation. 

Sustainable mobility extends off of the ideals of sustainable transport. This is because sustainable mobility also refers to providing people with accessible transportation regardless of their location or socio-economic status. In other words, sustainable transportation is more focused on creating types of transportation that reduce emissions, whereas sustainable mobility prioritises ensuring that transportation is provided to everyone regardless of factors out of their control.

What are the goals of sustainable mobility?

Sustainable mobility is determined to provide fair and equal, low-carbon transportation for everyone – but sustainable mobility also has a few other goals in mind. It is ideal that all sustainable mobility projects aim to achieve beyond the status quo of sustainable mobility. For example, sustainable mobility is also determined to reduce the amount of traffic and accidents caused by car drivers and ultimately lessen the impact on the insurance and healthcare systems. 

In addition to this, sustainable mobility is meant to make driving experiences for those who still choose to commute via car more pleasurable – such as by helping to reduce the waiting time at traffic lights, encourage the purchasing of greener cars, and avoid toxic particles from being emitted into the atmosphere and ultimately improving the overall air quality.

Sustainable mobility should also aim to avoid “bumper to bumper” traffic (where more emissions will be released into the atmosphere as cars are just sitting on the road but unable to turn the engines off in the hopes the driver will be able to move forward soon), make parking spaces more readily available, reduce road noise, and make public transportation seem more attractive to people to encourage them from using other carbon-intensive vehicles.

people on public bus

Why is sustainable mobility important and what are the benefits?

Sustainable mobility is important because it will help the world transition towards the use of greener transportation and promote equality amongst society – both things necessary if the people of the world want to conjoin forces and fight against climate change. In short, if there isn’t a push for more sustainable mobility, there will continue to be a wide discrepancy between those who can afford sustainable transportation and those who cannot. 

A great example of this is with the California Climate Legislation that was passed late last year, which includes the official banning of the purchase of gasoline powered cars from 2035 onwards. Despite the fact that this legislation will prove beneficial for the environment, it will put many residents of California in a difficult position – as many will be unable to afford electric cars and will struggle to get from point A to point B given California (especially southern California) is lacking in sufficient public transportation. Sustainability mobility is necessary to ensure that transportation rules are being created with both the health and safety of the environment, as well as the general public, in mind.

👉 Other benefits of sustainable mobility include protecting the environment, creating accessible transportation for everyone regardless of their finances, creating more affordable and efficient transportation, and preventing accidents on the road. 

It’s clear that sustainable mobility could have an overarching positive effect on both the planet and society, and luckily – there are several ways that sustainable mobility can be implemented.

What are some examples of sustainable mobility?

Sustainable mobility isn’t just depicted with public transportation, but sustainable mobility can be implemented in a multitude of ways.

However, one of the most popular examples of sustainable mobility can indeed be depicted with public transportation, as energy efficient mobile transportation can help to reduce emissions and reduce traffic – both of which usually contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. However, it can be difficult to use public transportation to help improve the circumstances in sustainable mobility as the public transport has to be consistent and reliable enough for the individual to make less use of their private transportation – such as their gasoline powered car at home. Therefore, in order for public transportation to aid in sustainable mobility, public transportation has to offer high quality, efficient transportation that residents of the area can depend on. 

Sustainable mobility can also be practiced by those who opt to bike or walk to wherever they are trying to get to go as well. As an American citizen, I’m sure we can all admit that we’ve gotten in the car for a five minute drive to the grocery store that could’ve been walked in under 20 minutes or biked in under 10. 

Another example of implementing sustainable mobility is through shared mobility, which is when people make use of sharing transportation instead of owning them: such as popular public scooters or bikes that people pay for by the minute in large cities. Shared mobility can ultimately help to reduce emissions and traffic, as it encourages people to only use bikes or scooters when they need to, and walk when they can if the distance isn’t worth the rental. 

A final example of sustainable mobility is when cities make an effort to improve the energy efficiency of their already existing public transportation systems – such as how the state of New York is making an effort to reduce the energy consumed by the state’s infamous subway system.

How can these examples of sustainable mobility successfully be implemented?

empty metro system

How can the world implement and improve sustainable mobility?

Sustainable mobility isn’t something that will come without incentivizing the general public in some way, meaning that governmental action is required to kickstart sustainable mobility programs. For instance, New York has released plans to improve their public transportation system and California announced late last year that purchasing gasoline powered cars will be prohibited starting in 2035. Implementing climate legislation like these will help to encourage the general public on the value, safety, efficiency, and benefits of giving public transportation a second chance.

In summary, sustainable mobility is an achievable goal, but it’s important to remember that sustainable mobility will not solve all of the issues that come about with road activity and transportation in general. For instance, sustainable mobility cannot reduce traffic to the extent zero-emissions will be produced. The main goal of sustainable mobility will be to provide sustainable transportation to everyone regardless of their income, and to encourage people to use sustainable transport by shifting the availability and reliability of public transportation systems.

At the end of the day, sustainable mobility will only be successful if the surrounding society accepts the methods being implemented for sustainable mobility – as user interest and usage is imperative for sustainable mobility to be successful. Everyone needs to be mobile in their lives, and more than ever in today’s world. It may take a while for sustainable mobility to be fully achieved, but the effort to make the transition towards sustainable mobility will benefit and protect both society and the planet during the journey.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about sustainable mobility has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Understanding what materials to swap out in order to improve the sustainability of your company can be daunting and confusing, but don’t worry – Greenly’s got you covered. Book a demo to learn more about how Greenly can help you to become more sustainable. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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