Have you ever wondered how the way you travel around your city or around the world affects the planet? The transport sector is one of the highest producers of greenhouse gas emissions and it is imperative that we reduce them in order to curb climate change.
In this regard, Austria is undergoing a revolution in sustainable mobility. How? With the agreed adoption of a single ticket that allows people to use any means of public transport in the country for EUR 949 a year. The measure aims to encourage citizens to stop using their own private vehicles as their choice of transport and to instead opt for more sustainable mobility.
What will I read in this article?
- The impact of transport on climate change
- How to promote more sustainable mobility
- Austria's single public transport ticket
The impact of transport on climate change
Mobility has an indispensable role in society and the economy. An efficient and accessible transport system is essential for the quality of life of citizens and for planetary health.
However, this sector remains one of the biggest environmental challenges that we are facing.
In fact, transport is responsible for 24 % of direct carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), with three-quarters of these emissions being produced by road vehicles.
"Transport is responsible for 24 % of direct carbon dioxide emissions"
Furthermore, far from declining, the number of emissions resulting from transport is continuing to rise. In Europe, for example, while most economic sectors, such as energy production or industry, have reduced their emissions since 1990, emissions resulting from the transport sector have continued to rise.
This is despite the progress that has been made in roads and vehicles going electric (the number of electric cars on the road in the world surpassed seven million in 2019). According to the IEA, this is due to two main reasons:
- We are increasingly buying larger and heavier vehicles.
- There has been an increase in e-commerce, requiring road transport in order to deliver orders.
We already know the implications that CO₂ has on global warming (see this article for more information). It is essential to reduce these gas emissions in order to curb climate change and limit the rise in temperatures as much as possible.
In addition, transport is also part of the problem of air pollution, a danger that, according to WHO data, is responsible for more than seven million premature deaths every year.
The fact is that the transport sector is in a critical transition. Existing plans to increase efficiency and reduce energy demand must be extended and be more ambitious so that countries are able to comply with Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.
How to promote sustainable mobility
The most urgent and necessary measures to reduce transport's environmental impact are to increase its energy efficiency, reduce its activity and, of course, reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.
In order for transport to be sustainable, emission-free vehicles must be promoted, whether they are battery electric vehicles or green hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
In fact, it is said that green hydrogen is set to be the fuel of the future. This element can be used as a source of energy in a fuel cell that generates electricity through chemical reactions.
Today, there are already road vehicles that work with this technology but it needs to be developed a lot more so that it can become an indispensable aspect of sustainable mobility on a global scale.
We also rely on innovation so that in the future, automated mobility and intelligent traffic management systems will make transport more efficient and less polluting.
But, beyond what we can achieve tomorrow, we must urgently implement measures that can change the mobility model, today.
Austria fights against climate change with its single public transport ticket
Here is what is happening in Austria. The single ticket which is to be implemented in six of the nine Austrian states is an ambitious measure aiming to minimise the impact of transport on climate change.
The goal of Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler is to encourage citizens to use public transport more instead of privately owned vehicles.
Citizens will be able to purchase the new Klimaticket for EUR 949 a year, with up to four children able to travel with the ticket holder for only an additional EUR 110. It will be introduced from October 2021 and the services available include travel by bus, train, tram and any other State-dependent means of transport for urban and interurban travel.
In Austria, around one third of CO2 emissions are a result of transport, making this sector the country's biggest climate protection challenge. This new offer makes public transport cheaper, ticket buying easier and, as such, it makes public transport much more appealing to travellers than private vehicles.
This measure is an essential step towards the urgent change of course for mobility. The climate ticket will help Austria reach the emission reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement.