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CORPUS Discussion Paper 1 on Sustainable Mobility

Mobility is among the top priorities in greening current consumption and production patterns. The scope of the challenge is wide. The whole mobility sector is a key branch of the European economy as it employs about 16.6 million people in EU-27 (2007). Actions and measures to meet these challenges have been taken. Often, two basic approaches to transport planning are distinguished: whereas a more “conventional” approach addresses primarily transport planning and engineering, an “integrative” approach considers the sustainable challenges, consumers’ mobility patterns and links them. Most current policy strategies still do not try to pursue an integrated policy path. The focus of this discussion paper is on consumers, and their contribution to, and pathways towards, a sustainable mobility system. Accordingly, attention is paid to passenger rather than freight transport. The paper covers ecological, social, and economic impacts. For each impact dimension, the paper provides an overview of the main issues, major empirical studies and available key data; this is intended to support evidence-based policy making. Sustainable mobility is confronted with different lock-in situations. The investment in traffic infrastructure, in the acquisition of aircraft, trains or cars hinders change toward more sustainable mobility patterns, because any earlier phase out would result in costs that have incurred and cannot be recovered. Lock-ins tend to stabilise the present mobility system. However, there are factors offering new opportunities for transforming the current mobility system largely based on fossil fuels: oil crises and dependency on unstable regimes are often mentioned. Moreover, the increasing unwillingness to accept noise or congestion might give rise to alternative transport approaches. Policy is becoming more sensitive toward these issues. A variety of policy measures is discussed and/or already implemented. To date, mobility management covers a remarkable number of innovative approaches, such as congestion charges, education programmes or communication strategies. They are encouraging pathways toward more advanced strategies on sustainable mobility.

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