A climate-compatible alternative for tomorrow's mobility

AIT is exploring a sufficiency-based mobility vision: What would be the economic, societal and environmental effects of a mobility budget?

How can the often cited transformation in mobility succeed? What does it take to design a climate-compatible mobility system while at the same time satisfying people's needs? Within the framework of the funded exploratory project "mobalance", AIT experts, together with project partners, are addressing these questions and developing a sufficiency-oriented mobility vision based on the concept of a so-called mobility budget.

From "fast-higher-wider" to "more sustainable-fair-moderate"

To drive, fly, go wherever we want or have to, is both a desire and something we take for granted. Having everything available at all times is a demand of the globalised world we
are confronted with. For many years decision makers in economy and politics raced to advance their visions, products and services under the motto “faster-higher-further”.

Today, however, a paradigm shift is on the horizon: The mobility of people and goods is undergoing a fundamental change. The decisive factors here are clearly defined ecological targets such as the Paris Agreement and the resulting amount of CO2 that can still be emitted until 2050 without jeopardising the temperature target. We therefore urgently need to rethink the mobility system in the sense of sustainability.

The development of a sufficiency-oriented vision of mobility could be a key element of mobility transformation. In the transport context, the introduction of an individual mobility budget would significantly support such a development – with the aim of bringing about a moderate and conscious handling of mobility in order to limit transport to a socially and ecologically acceptable level. This would, however, have a significant impact on people’s lives and would entail a number of economic and social challenges.

A sensible design of mobility by applying the sufficiency principle?

In the feasibility study "mobalance" the characteristics and application options of such an individual mobility budget are worked out on the basis of this approach. For example, it is under discussion in what way individual life situations (advantaging or disadvantaging different groups and spatial types) and purposes of mobility (work-related and personal trips) can be integrated into such a concept. Central questions in this context are:

  • What would be the characteristics of a mobility budget? (How would the mobility behaviour be captured? How could data be protected against misuse and manipulation? How would different behavioural influences on resource consumption, e.g. preferences and constraints, have to be assessed?)
  • How and for what purpose could such a concept be implemented? (Which objectives could be supported by the introduction of a mobility account, e.g. social, ecological, economic? Which actors are needed for implementation? Where are the interfaces to other systems, e.g. energy, space)?

The "mobalance" study strives for a broad discussion with various stakeholders and actors at the international level in order to clarify these issues and create the necessary foundations for implementation. The concept of a mobility budget aims at politics, administration and transport planning as well as at interfaces to planning disciplines such as spatial planning, urban planning or energy spatial planning.

In a follow-up project, the knowledge gained will be tested together with innovative application partners in various contexts (residential environment, working environment, etc.) in order to ultimately provide decision makers on the policy and administration level with the basic information they need for steering a sustainable transformation of the mobility system.

Alexandra Millonig, project manager and mobility expert at the AIT Center for Mobility Systems: "Recent research shows that technological solutions can make a valuable contribution, but are far from being implemented quickly and effectively enough to achieve the necessary climate objectives in the transport sector. This requires appropriate measures that support a more moderate mobility behaviour of the population in combination with advanced technologies. However, implementing such measures in a socially equitable manner is a major challenge and requires the active participation of all parties involved."

Project partners:

Lorenz Consult
Vienna University of Economics and Business – Department of Socioeconomics

The feasibility study "mobalance" is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit) and the FFG within the framework of the 9th MdZ call 2017 (personal mobility).

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