the Resource Intensity of Mobility – A transport Policy Running on Empty

 These words of Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, courtesy of The Guardian with the sting in the tail highlighted, taken together with the clip from the Times and the  12th December post, ‘Turkeys don’t Vote for Christmas’  graphically illustrate the need for a systemic and integrated approach to reducing the resource intensity of mobility.

“In terms of non-OPEC [countries outside the big oil producers’ cartel], we are expecting that in three, four years’ time the production of conventional oil will come to a plateau, and start to decline. In terms of the global picture, assuming that OPEC will invest in a timely manner, global conventional oil can still continue, but we still expect that it will come around 2020 to a plateau as well, which is, of course, not good news from a global-oil-supply point of view.”

On the basis that the least resource intense process is the one that doesn’t exist, we must work to continually remove none essential journeys and transfer essential ones to the least resource intense, renewably powered alternatives. On the basis of the IEA’s comments is is clear that, on the timescale available

  • based on foreseeable technology the aviation industry has no future as a mass transit system
  • Initially voluntary and assisted, directed labour will need to be implemented amoungst people with identical skill sets and national pay scales. (limiting job applications to a maximum travel radius)
  • Mandating that children live within walking or cycling distance of school will be necessary and then mandating the elimination of the ‘school run’.

These comments may sound draconian but they are implicit in the words of Fatih Birol, as these do not postulate the future distribution of energy availability or the net useful energy available after recovery, processing and transporting.

To be continued  dd


A transport policy running on empty


……………….So is the case against other aspects of the government’s transport policy. When the citizens of Greater Manchester voted 4-1 against its proposed congestion charge, they knew what they were doing. Five years after the London congestion charge was introduced, the capital’s road system is still chaotic with traffic moving at a snail’s pace. Promises of a transformation of public transport proved illusory. If Manchester was meant to pave the way for an expansion of congestion charging around the country, its residents have performed the useful service of sending it back to Go.

…………………….. There is a case for “smart” congestion charging to change patterns of road use, as an alternative to duties on petrol and the taxation of vehicles………………

Yet little of this thinking seems to be going on. There seems, instead, a willingness to let our dated transport systems gently decline in the hope that nobody notices too much. The reasons for this may be as varied as wishing to save money or to discourage people from using crowded roads. More likely it is a reluctance to think big; it is a truism that this country muddles through when it comes to transport. France, Germany and Spain produce gleaming new trains and glistening auto-routes. We respond with potholed roads and clapped-out trains. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the muddle over Heathrow.


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