Decarbonizing mobility: where do we start?

  • Brian Caulfield

    Brian Caulfield

    Professor in transportation and Head of Department at Trinity College Dublin, Expert to the National Transport Authorithy (Ireland)

21 February 2024

Private electric vehicles are insufficient to decarbonize mobility.

Although they yield environmental benefits, they come with several constraints and issues, including lithium extraction, which raises ethical concerns. They are also unable to tackle urban issues such as road congestion or bus delays.

When it comes to electrification, we should use our scarce resources to optimize shared fleets, rather than individual cars. For example, we’ve conducted research that suggested that the electrification of taxi fleets can help reduce emissions - and therefore become a viable alternative to cars.

The role that public transit plays in decarbonizing mobility cannot be understated. By its very nature, public transportation is more efficient than individual electric cars. Public transportation systems have started to integrate electrification across all modes: electric buses, hydrogen buses, electric rail… Ultimately, the key to fully decarbonizing this sector is figuring out how to get more people onboard.