Transport emissions and space - we have transition targets for one but not the other

Transport emissions and space - we have transition targets for one but not the other
Transport emissions and space - we have transition targets for one but not the other

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and in this case, it really does.  The following infographic was produced by the Institute of Sensible Transport and shared through the Public Transport Users Association's facebook page.

It breaks down the emissions produced per person-kilometre travelled as well as the amount of space required for an occupant on a scale from dirtiest to cleanest from an emission's perspective.  And while a picture may speak a thousand words, it's worth writing a few hundred words about it.

Anything that operates on electricity from the grid at present will have varying degrees of 'dirtiness' lurking over any respective green image due to much of our electricity produced through fossil fuels despite a transition to more renewable generation being added to the grid.

By the end of 2018, Victoria will likely have another gigawatt (1000MW) of grid-connected renewables either completed or under construction which will increase renewables in the mix as there are no fossil fuel generators under development.

Some of these projects include the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm located west of Ballarat, the 226MW Murra Warra wind farm located north of Horsham and recently reached financial close, the 100MW Numurkah solar farm and the 110MW Bannerton Park solar farm located near Robinvale.  There's over 3 gigawatts worth of Wind Farms that have received ministerial approval or are in the process of being assessed.

Bannerton Park and Numurkah grabbed headlines last year when it was announced they were both the successful renewable energy projects that tendered for the Yarra Trams power contract.

As the national grid sees more and more renewables connected, the emissions per person-kilometre travelled will decrease - we're very much on that journey right now.

For cities, the emissions problem is on the way to being solved, but what about space?

In a few decades, we might reach the point where all electricity generation in Victoria and indeed across the country has transitioned to renewable generation and storage as well as all new cars, trucks and buses are either powered by electricity or a fuel produced by renewable energy such as hydrogen

It's really not hard to envision that future with wind and solar now among the cheapest forms of new generation and likewise, storage technology price reductions are driving growth at the grid level and in detached dwellings and businesses.

We have targets at the Federal and State level that have focused investment in renewable energy generation - the South Australian Labor party even announced a storage target during its election pitch - however we don't have city, state or national transport mode share targets for cities.

At a precinct level we're starting to see targets - case in point, Fishermans Bend is aiming to have 80% of all trips to, from and within handled by sustainable modes of transport (walking, cycling, public transport), but nothing at a city or state-wide level.

In the context of a Melbourne & Sydney that are predicted to have their populations increase to 8 million by the middle of the century through increased densities, should we not have targets for our cities to shift away from space-hogging private transport to more space-efficient public transport and active transport modes?


Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

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