Drive Towards Sustainability?

“Ethical Markets highly recommends this systemic approach of the SDGs to addressing our global problems, as we use in our Green Transition Scoreboard®,as well as in judging of KATERVA innovations and described in this video by my longtime colleague and member of our global Advisory Board, physicist Fritjof Capra.

~Hazel Henderson, Editor”

Transport Category at Katerva

Regardless of the advancement of communication systems and automated processes, we will always need ways to get things (including ourselves) from point A to point B. This is how we set out the stall for our ‘Transportation’ category which covers innovations and efforts leading to safe and accessible, low- or zero-carbon transportation forms and efforts to improve current methods of mass transportation of materials.

Transport and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Although sustainable transport does not form a standalone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in the 2030 Agenda, it is included directly or indirectly within many of the SDGs, especially those related to food security, health, energy, infrastructure, cities and human settlements, and climate change. Diving deeper into the topic of transport enables us to realise yet again that all the causes and effects of climate change are all interconnected, and can only be addressed in a systemic approach – an approach that has a strong proponent in physicist, systems theorist and deep ecologist, Fritjof Capra. He offers clear and convincing argumentation why climate change is a systemic problem, and why we need deeper understanding of complexity, networks and patterns of organisation and think in terms of relationships patterns and contexts if we want to find sustainable solutions. The essence of his thinking is captured in a 2 minute video; for those with an appetite for more there is the 30 minute version

Transport is central to our lives, but are we moving fast enough to tackle an impending climate crisis?

“We have no option but to reinvent mobility… much of India still takes the bus, walks or cycles – in many cities as much as twenty percent of the population bikes. We do this because we are poor. Now the challenge is to reinvent city planning so that we can do this as we become rich.” Sunita Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment, 2013, quoted in Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything.

Is a greener world possible given our transport needs?

If the global community fails to act on climate change, the world is on a trajectory to heat up by 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, according to a 2012 World Bank report. A more recent report by scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate even predicts that rises in average global temperatures could reach 5.8 °C by the year 2100. To put this into perspective, over the past 100 years temperature has risen between 0.4 and 0.8 °C . Author and climate activist Naomi Klein fears, “We may not even survive this. It could raise sea levels by one or two meters. Crops would also suffer. Wheat could plummet as much as 60%. It’s difficult to imagine that a peaceful ordered society could exist.”

Indeed, according to a NASA study from 2018 that looked at 25 years of satellite data, global sea level rise is accelerating incrementally over time rather than increasing at a steady rate, as previously thought, meaning that sea level are expected to rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100.

While natural processes continue to introduce short term variability, the unremitting rise of CO2 from industrial activities has become the dominant factor in determining our planet’s climate now and in the years to come.

So, how much is the transport sector to blame? According to Forbes, about a third of our primary energy is petroleum used in our transportation, and that is 95% gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. 

The diagram below, sourced from the United States Environment Protection Agency, depicts that the transport sector is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In developed nations it is more – in the U.S. as much as 29%.