Transport and energy: evidence base for post-carbon futures

The TGRG and Energy Geographies Working Group joined forces for the second year running at the RGS-IBG annual conference, to host another session on Energy and Transport. This is a growing area of academic study, as illustrated by the increased number of presentations (10 this year compared with 6 the previous year) and attendees who packed the room.

This post provides a very brief overview of each presentation and, where possible, links to slides from the presenters.

This session was part of the Transport Geography Research Group’s widespread presence at the RGS -IBG annual conference in London, August 2014. Organised in collaboration between myself from the TGRG and Stewart Barr from the Energy Geographies Working Group (EGWG), and building on a similar session last year, the session comprised 5 excellent presentations on a range of different modes of travel, scales of analysis and methodological approaches. This write-up provides an overview of each presentation and provides brief commentary on the potential of ‘Energy and Transport’ as an emerging field with Transport Geography.

The session ran in two halves, the first being more empirical and the latter more theoretical, although there was a good overlap between the two.

Before seeing each presentation, it is worth reflecting on the session abstract, the original call for papers:

Transport and energy are intricately related yet the connection between these two systems is often overlooked. One reason for this is that academic research and policy making processes tend to treat them as separate issues, to be tackled in isolation. This session calls for papers which demonstrate and promote the links between transport and mobility and energy use, exploring both the impacts of contemporary mobility for energy security and the ways in which changing geographies of energy will influence future mobility. Critically, the session calls for papers that explore how research into transport and energy has been used or could be applied to policy making for sustainable and resilient transport and energy systems of the future. This includes examples of knowledge exchange between policy makers, practitioners, businesses, researchers and the public, and wider calls for policy change based on new findings about the energy use of different types and mode of travel, new metrics for evaluating transport policies and previous examples of intervention from which lessons can be learned. Papers are to be presented by researchers working at a range of temporal and spatial scales to explore the pragmatic implications of transport and energy research, their out-working with policy makers and practitioners and the ways in which new collaborations between researchers and policy makers can be forged.”

Identifying and comparing the implicit and explicit assumptions about energy demand in British policy documents: A critical review

Antonio Ferreira

This research was based on a review of British transport planning documents and identified a number of recurring ‘meta-themes’ which framed the debate and was delivered in an entertaining and thoughtful way.

The scheduling and timing of shopping journeys: implications for transport energy demand

Giulio Mattioli

This paper presented new results about ‘gross polluters’, the 20% most energy intensive travellers who account for an astonoshing 60% of energy use. Cluster analysis was used to identify specific groups that could be targeted, building on research by Christian Brand on the topic of ‘taming the few’ (Brand and Boardman, 2008).

Transitioning to low-emission vehicles: an analysis of the potential rebound effects and subsequent impact upon emissions

Joel Franklin

This presentation reported new findings on the potential ‘rebound effects’ of policies to promote low emission vehicles (LEVs). Through some innovative analyses of commuters, disgregated by type of car and home-work locations, the research demonstrated that there was a small rebound effect, but this was much smaller than the overall energy savings of the uptake of LEVs.

Policy Solutions for Energy Use Reduction in the Aviation Industry

Holy Edwards

This research was about policies that have received industry attention to solve the problem of aviation’s rapidly growing carbon footprint. Primarily technological, the options have the potential to reduce emissions only marginally, raising the issue of demand restraint for the ‘gross polluters’ described in the second presention.

Modelling the energy and emission savings of a ‘Get Britain Cycling’ scenario of modal shift

Robin Lovelace

The final presentation was by myself and focussed on the potential energy implication of a particular mode: cycling. To estimate energy savings, scenarios were taken from the Parliamentary Get Britain Cycling report and a method was developed to disaggregate these national aspirations over space and time.


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