Increase of carbon emissions (15% of global CO2 emissions are attributed to the transport sector), traffic jam, air pollution, harmful impact on health, are some of the elements that definitely make reflect about the need to reshape our rusty infrastructures and daily habits that are not contributing for good. Definitely transport represents that change that we need in order to make cities more livable.
Is estimated that around 2.5 billion people -2/3- will be living in cities by 2050, which means more demands in terms of a clean environment and the reshape of infrastructures.
More than ever investment on infrastructures coming from the public sector, becomes essential for making cities sustainable and achieving a system around a 100% green transport. We are not used to be innovative and infrastructures have remained within the same traditional standards for decades. In political aspects, infrastructures have always been the visible side of a successful Administration. From democracies to dictatorships it represents a symbol of power and a good way to justify rise of taxes or/and wrong policies from other grounds.
In Venezuela, Merida cablecar, is considered one of the 10 world´s best cableway, despite the fact that only 480 tourists have used it since 2016. The big green project get trapped in the political vertigo of a Government that does not handle well with crises and had seen on this cableway just a “green marketing opportunity”.
Once again, corruption leads and Green politics are just dark politics painting by a Green layer of pseudo-innovation and excess of marketization that do not aim to improve services but give an image of a clean Administration.
We not only need to get rid of marketization aspects but to the tradition of building new highways, roads, bridges, etc. and investment in modern cars without innovation and sense of “being green”. A sustainable future comes from awareness and commitment from the public sector to boost a new “establishment” on public investment.
Initiatives as the one developed in Los Angeles of painting the roads in white, named “sealcoat” shows that its possible and that innovation is a driver for change with immediate impact on the environment. Indeed, roads painting in dark absorb 80 to 90% of the sun´s rays*.
There is much more than just invest on conservation and construction of better roads but to make it sustainable and a tool that contributes to a better environment.
The rise of the cities, with half of the world population living on it has left the idea of a middle class that met the challenges of an urban living with more spending on polluted habits on transport. That was definitely the mentality of the 90s´that still today and prevent for a system change.
There is still not a general perception of associating a green transportation to high standards of living and these culture codes impact negatively on the pursue of a green goal on transportation.
Global Goals are definitely a driver for change and a way to make the political agenda mandatory green. SDG 9 “Industry, innovation and infrastructure” forces to make an in-depth change of the system –not just on policies- and make of transport a sustainable tool that contributes to reduce emissions and at the same time boost growth and new habits. At regional level the European Union has taken important and determinate steps for transforming transport into a “contributor” for a clean environment by setting limits for average CO2 emissions per kilometer from new passenger cars.
If innovation it’s the tool for building new infrastructures around a green transport its clear that a robust regulation represents a paramount framework to achieve successful goals. Even if there is a formal commitment to Global Goals there are still been seen as a matter of good political intentions and leaders with a green vision, not as a rule to follow However, it must be absorbed among politicians and mainly among citizens that the agenda has a clear priority and that it is mandatory: transformation towards green.
If there is not full awareness from citizens of the need to influence politicians towards green innovative goals there are few chances that cities could become a sustainable place for living. In which transport represents the main challenge for addressing in the next decades. Change of individual habits, strategic selection of leaders, green regulation, innovative infrastructures and R+D investment are some of the challenges.
Green cities…the sky is the limit.