A society where we can get from one place to another without jeopardizing our future is possible.
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Some abbreviations are used in this chapter. You can find explanations of all abbreviations in the glossary.
The idea of avoid, shift and improve should be in the center of a new understanding of traffic. The most sustainable traffic is one that does not even exist. Less traffic is not a loss in quality of life; indeed it has to be seen as a gain for the society, environment, climate and oneself. Less traffic does not imply less mobility. The idea of striving for more and faster, is replaced by putting humans and quality of life for all beings in the center. Switching to active forms of mobility has many positive effects besides a reduction in GHG emissions - people are healthier, happier and it uses less space. Certainly, there is little individual traffic that will also in the future have to rely on motorized forms of transport. For that remaining individual and public motorized traffic, we envision a radical decarbonization and a more efficient use.
By 2030 a drastic modal shift has taken place. Individual mobility highly decreased and the remaining means of transport are fossil-free and decarbonized. A convenient, safe and fast network of pedestrian routes, bike lanes and public transportation is developed on national and international scale. People choose to walk or go by bike as often as possible. This will lead not only to a decrease in GHG-emissions, but also to happier and healthier citizens. We imagine a sharp reduction in road traffic through different means, like adaptations of the public space or more efficient use of cars. The business sector is localized to reduce transport distance wherever possible and else acknowledges the vast potential and advantages of digitalization and move from physical meetings to telephone and video conferences. In many ways we already started to see the benefits of a decelerated life.
Specific needs are taken into account to ensure the diversity and characteristics of all regions: There is no single solution, but an intelligent mix of the required means of transport. Technical solutions facilitate car sharing, and multi-modal use of means of transport. Transportation becomes a collectivized public service and the era of private oversized cars is over. The remaining motorized means of transportation are light and powered by renewable and sustainable energy sources. Car traffic was slowed down on every level, which encourages people to travel less far. When still travelling long distances, one travels by train, since that is faster or more convenient than motorized individual mobility. Furthermore, people gain productive time, by being able to work or relax whilst being on the move and not having to steer a car.
The full price for transportation will be paid by the people who are moving, including emerging costs from possible environmental damage. This will lead to a decrease in traffic in general. There should be no incentives that possibly cause more traffic. If public transport was free, people might be encouraged to use it more or use public transport in the cities instead of biking or walking. Therefore, initiatives such as lowering the price of public transportation or subsidized general abonnement are not included in the policies. Nevertheless, social justice is an important issue and people who struggle financially must be supported sufficiently in general in order to have a budget that allows them to buy regular tickets for their journeys.
In air traffic, we imagine a massive reduction. Intra-European flights will be forbidden, and airlines do not benefit from any kind of financial advantages (like tax cuts, etc.). Flights are replaced by trains or technical solutions, such as video conferences and calls, whenever possible. The flights that are inevitable run on synthetic fuel, produced from renewable energy. When traveling to remote destinations, people take trips of multiple weeks and make the most of the experience instead of taking weekend trips.
In Cities there will be almost no individually owned cars and City-Centers are mainly entirely car-free. With a close-mesh net of public transport, including automated vehicles, bike and foot lanes, there is in general no need for cars within cities for the transportation of passengers. These changes bring more advantages than disadvantages. Imagine a city, where the only sound is children laughing while playing in the streets and birds singing from trees, which could grow on all the space saved by reducing individual motorized traffic. There will be air as clean as in the mountains, as combustion engines are banned from ground transport. A prioritizing organization of public transport and its infrastructure and semi-centralized localization of mobility-hubs at the outer boundaries of cities make intermodal mobility possible.
People conveniently use an efficient system of public transportation. Within walking or biking distance or by public transit they reach a train station connecting them with their place of work or leisure. Furthermore, commuting by bike is safer and often faster than by car, due to a better cycling path network. Multimodal systems with hubs lead to an optimization of connections and more efficient transportation. The roads used for cars are reduced to give more space to pedestrian, bike lines and public transport.
In rural areas, technical solutions smartly using digitalization can be the key to sustainable mobility. Shared cars, small (maybe autonomous) busses are conveniently available on demand. With these means of transport, people living in rural areas can reach a train station connecting them with their place of work or leisure. Since mountain regions face specific challenges, and they should not be cut off, using a car might be unavoidable in some cases. Those cars will be electrical, whenever possible shared, and ride sharing should be introduced.
The number of trips is reduced, people choose closer destinations and take more time for travel. The time efficiency is not the main driver but rather the minimization of the carbon impact of the travel. Flights will no longer be preferably used, as the differences between the prices for travelling with different means of transport will reflect the differences in environmental impact, and alternatives are sufficiently convenient. Hence, people will prefer the train or a public bus.
Leisure: The journey is part of the travel experience. Modest, socially and environmentally responsible tourism will prevent mass tourism from spoiling global hot spots. Longer travels allow a deeper, more meaningful and more personal engagement with other cultures and places. Short vacations are spent close to home.
Business: The hectic air-commuter life is replaced by digital solutions. Instead of spending evenings at security checks, one will be at home with family or friends.
Europe: Europe is connected by a vast network of railways; thus, all travel is carried out with trains. Night train connections lead to more comfort, and convenience in travel. There are no flight connections between European cities, they are unnecessary.
Intercontinental: Overseas travel is seen as a once in a lifetime experience with sufficient time to stay in the destination. Therefore, they are mostly taken by ship, since the trip there is seen as part of the experience. Cross-ocean ship lines are re-opened with energy efficient decarbonized boats that are considered as means of transportation and not means of leisure. Leisure cruise ships are forbidden due to their disastrous carbon emissions and impact on the sea biodiversity.
The challenges for cargo transportation are overcome by a change in consumption and a modal shift.
Consumption: The total tons of goods transported in Switzerland has been reduced, since people tend to see value in quality rather than quantity and a shift in the consumer behavior is taking place to a more sustainable use of goods. Goods will be produced long-lasting, durable and whenever possible with local means. Therefore, people are more connected to the production of their goods. We are satisfied without instant delivery and very limited products coming from the other side of the planet or depending on raw materials from other continents. Consumption of locally produced goods is encouraged by policies that increase the price of goods coming from further abroad and labels with their carbon impact on every product are implemented to raise awareness to the consumers. Over-consumption is stopped, and people become aware of what they consume. A circular economy is established through upcycling of goods, secondhand shopping, repair cafés, and by product design that keeps the whole cycle in mind.
Modal Shift: By 2030, a drastic modal shift has taken place in the Swiss cargo sector. Rails become the main mean of transportation in the conveyances of goods for medium and long distances. Central sorting stations in cities connect rails, underground cargo routes and bikes are key points in the developed conveyances sector to make the system efficient. Railways are built to directly connect the factories and storing facilities with the railways. Cargo-bikes play an important role in transportation within the cities. Bicycles are the most efficient and sustainable means of transport and in the future their full potential will be used for the transportation of goods. With smart technologies and digitalization, systems have evolved to create an interplay between bikes and trains. Furthermore, heavy goods will be transported by electric or hydrogen and fuel cell powered trucks. Efficient systems and specific policy measurements result in economically attractive conditions for decarbonized freight transportations. Because of policy measures and rise of the fuel price, carbonized freight transportations are becoming economically disadvantageous.
Mobility continually changes due to lifestyles, new business models, and technological progress. Agglomerations, rural, and urban areas demand different solutions, to ensure their access to the traffic system (FOEN 2018). A well-functioning traffic system is the basis of our society. Over time the means of transport have gotten faster. The passenger car has transformed modern life. It led seemingly to a gain of reachability. No matter where one lives, places get accessible more easily. The increase in speed, basically through the introduction of passenger cars and the acceleration of street-infrastructure - mainly from the 60ties up to today - as well as the improvement of railways’ supply, allows people to get further in the same time. For many people in Switzerland today, living, working, leisure, shopping, family, and friends often are wide apart. As the means of transportation got faster the travel distances simply got longer but the time spent on mobility stayed constant (Knoflacher 2013). Spatial planning has supported this trend. Small-scale, local structures are lost. The build-up of transport infrastructure is an essential driver of urban sprawl, between 1970 and 2017 the Swiss road network of national roads almost increased by a factor of 3 (FSO 2018).
The implications are varied. The quality of stay in cities has lowered, as well as a sense of belonging. The increase in speed has led to a decrease in quality of life. Beautiful town centers have become dormitory towns.
While mobility has stayed the same, traffic has increased. Next to high emission rates, road traffic has a negative impact on air quality, and high noise levels. Cities are clogged with traffic and air pollution. We are facing a complex challenge that needs taking into consideration different aspects, finding reasonable solutions that are tailored to different regions, and setting priorities consistently.
Mobility in Switzerland
Traffic is the area that accounts for the most significant share of total GHG emissions in Switzerland. Of all inland emissions (international air transport excluded), traffic emits 32% of Switzerland's GHG emissions (Frischknecht et al. 2019). That fact makes ground transportation an area of major concern.
In contrast to the sectors industry and building, the traffic sector has not shown decreasing numbers of GHG emissions. Even though energy efficiency has risen, the increase in traffic volumes has overcompensated this gain—the average kilometers driven by car increase every year (Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz 2016). Moreover, the fleet of vehicles is increasing (FOEN 2018). Of the 32% GHG emissions caused by traffic, 98% is due to road traffic ( BAFU 2019). That makes road traffic the single largest source of GHG emissions in Switzerland.
The average Swiss person covers a distance of 24'489 km (13'754 domestic, 11'095 abroad) per year (ARE, 2015). On average, per day, a person is commuting 90.4 Minutes and 36.8 km, with cars being the main means of transport (65%) (FSO 2017b). The purposes for which these distances were traveled vary. While most cars were built to transport five people plus luggage, on average 1.6 people sit in a car, during rush hour it is only 1.1 people (FSO 2017b). The most significant shares consist of leisure travel with 44% and work commute 24% (FSO 2017b).
The choice of means of transport and daily km depend on the level of urbanization. In general, people living in the city have a shorter daily distance covered than people living in agglomerations. The most extensive daily distances are covered by people living in rural areas. Figure 1 illustrates that the more urbanized the place of living is, the less km are covered by motorized individual transport, and the more on foot, or by bike. Moreover, the choice of means of transport also varies between gender, age group, language region, and income (BFS, 2017).
However, figure 1 states that cars are the means of transport used for the most significant share of the daily distance (BFS, 2017).
A Comparison of Means of Transport
Life cycle assessments studies show comparable high greenhouse gas emissions for all fossil energy operated powertrain technologies and comparable low greenhouse gas emissions for renewable energy operated powertrains.
Cost of Transportation
The Federal Office for Spatial Development presents precise numbers concerning costs and benefits of traffic (FSO 2017b): In 2016, the external costs of mobility (air pollution, noise, GHG-emissions, accidents) in Switzerland accounted for 13.3 billion (FSO 2017b). The transportation of people causes 81 % of external costs of traffic in Switzerland. Moreover, the ARE assigned ⅔ of the external climate-costs by traffic to road transport (FSO 2017b).
However, it is unconscionable to fix a monetary cost for the effects of traffic. While accidents and noise can be estimated, it is impossible to price the impacts of an emitted ton of GHG reasonably. Firstly, how could we rate damages to human well-being and loss of life beyond reduced economic output? (Stern 2016) Secondly, as the effects of climate change accelerate with every further emission, the marginal cost of a ton GHG must increase as well. Furthermore, since climate change does not linearly depend on the amount of CO2eq in the atmosphere, the cost of each ton CO2eq emitted is not constant but increasing. Nevertheless, if there is a reasonable price for a ton of GHG emissions, it would be the price for effectively removing and storing it for 10’000 years, including the risk of overshoot.
It is difficult to estimate the cost of emissions. But the relation between household income and the expenses for public and private mobility are well known (Figure 3). Although road transport is responsible for the majority of the external costs, it has become significantly cheaper in recent years. However, prices for public transportation have increased steadily. This means incentives are currently set towards private mobility and against less emissions intense alternatives like public transport.
Parliamentary Procedural Requests
There had been several attempts to tackle the tremendous GHG emissions from the transport sector. However, the federal council proposed the rejection of a recent request that would align swiss road traffic laws with the Paris agreement (DETEC 2019). The board argued that it would propose long-term goals to the parliament for the strategy after 2030. So far, the federal council neglected calls to Act-Now and take responsibility in the current crisis, as he had set all goals for 2050. Moreover, a primary goal of cost-benefits analysis conducted by the Swiss government in road infrastructure projects is a reduction of the commuting time(DETEC 2019). In the past, a reduction of the commuting time resulted in longer distances travelled by individuals and the actual time spent for mobility stayed constant (Knoflacher 2013). Hence, an increase in traffic volume is promoted. At the present state, the government rejected all attempts to substantially reduce traffic and tackle emission issues in the transport sector. Although, the mobility sector is the key driver in missing the Swiss climate goals of 2020 (SRF).
Figure 4 illustrates that nowadays, 19% more goods are transported on roads and rail in Switzerland compared to the year 2000. The increase in commodities is predominantly carried by transportation on roads (FSO 2019b). Since, the majority of the growth in the transport sector has taken place in the private motorization division, the GHG emissions increased substantially.
For freight transport, the majority (61%) is transported on roads and 39% on railways in 2016 (FSO 2019c). Between 2000 and 2016, the share of goods transported on the road increased three times more compared to the share transported on the railway (FOEN 2018). Consequently, the number of trucks and delivery vehicles in Switzerland is increasing drastically (60% increase for delivery vehicles and a 41% increase for articulated trucks since 2000). The rise in delivery vehicles (363,000 in 2017) can be strongly correlated to the enormous growth in the domestic transport sector (nearly 5 percent increase in 2018) (FSO 2019c). Moreover, trends of the ARE reference scenarios (2015) consider growth of 37% in the tons of goods transported by 2040. Compared with the population growth of 22% until 2045 (BFS 2015)this would lead to a substantial increase in the transport volume per person. Furthermore, the ARE scenario suggests that the split between road and rail transport will be nearly identical to the present, with road transports dominating the sector by covering 84.2% of all conveyances. Thus, if nothing changes the transport sector will list a considerable rise of GHG emission.
Traffic is not only caused by bringing people from A to B. The transportation of goods takes up a big share in the traffic sector. Therefore, the way we consume and the journey our goods take plays a crucial role in the discussion about the mobility sector. By only focussing on inland traffic, we do not get the whole picture. Both travelling abroad and importing goods have to be included. Thus, water transport has to be looked at next to air and land transport, even if on the first glance it seems to be neglectable in a landlocked country like Switzerland. In our highly connected global society, it truely can not be left aside. 90 percent of all goods consumed are being transported by ship (Delestrac 2016). But transparency for consumers is missing. Finding out how far a product has traveled and what it means environmentally and socially is not easy. Big ports are outside city centers and therefore invisible to the public. Today's cargo ships are bigger than the Titanic, and keep being bigger and bigger. The economic incentives for producers support long transportation ways, regardless of the environmental or social costs. Economically seen it is favourable to transport goods around the world, as long as somewhere labour costs are so cheap that they outweigh what is needed to be spent on transporting the goods to the country where they are consumed. The low transportation costs are only possible if people are exploited (poor working conditions) and the environmental consequences are neglected (and costs are not paid by consumers). The consequences of current shipping practices on nature and humans are various: Inhumane working conditions lead to accidents with freight ships that lead to leakage of fuel and as a consequence destroy maritime habitat and cause pollution - as laws and regulations of the country under which flag a ship is run are applicable, “western” environmental and social standards do not apply. Pumping ocean water in and out to stabilize the ship and the massive noise level ships cause, have a drastic impact on the ecosystem ocean and the fish. Dirty fuel (residual fuel, which is not allowed for cars) causes air pollution that leads to health issues for people living near ports. For the customer ordering/buying a product it seems to be clean and simple: It takes a mouse click and a few days waiting or going to a store and buying it cheap. In Switzerland 10% of imported goods arrive by ship (FOC 2016). The most important (and practically the only) entry points are the “Schweizerischen Rheinhäfen” in Muttenz-Au (BL), Birsfelden (BL) and Kleinhüningen (BS).
Just as convenient as it is to buy goods that have been produced far away, is to go on a cruise. Hopping on a ship and enjoying two weeks of all inclusive travel on a floating hotel entertainment island. Ship motors cause not only greenhouse gas emissions but other environmental impacts. A Swiss study shows that the most important criteria in environmental friendly travelling are how the destination is reached, the relation between travel distance and time spent in the destination as well as renouncing environment damaging activities such as cruises (Büsser, Stucki, and Jungbluth 2010).
Summing up, the transport sector accounts for 27 percent, international shipping accounts for 2 percent of all global GHG-emissions (FOEN 2018). The International Maritime Organization has recently updated its own estimate and has found that international maritime activity emitted a total of 1,120 Mt of CO2 – more than twice the IEA estimate for 2005 (IMO) and more than emission produces by global aviation industry (Marine transport and CO2 emissions)
Beside GHG-emission, shipping also contributes to climate change by emitting “black carbon” produced by combustion of heavy fuel oil. Black carbon accounts for 21% of CO2eq emission from ships, making it the second most important driver of shipping’s climate impacts after carbon dioxide. No regulations are controlling these black carbon emissions (Transport and environment, 2020).
Moreover, another aspect of which shipping impacts climate change is the by transporting living organisms (though ballast water taking up to stabilize the boat) from different ecosystem creating invasive species that are responsible for destroying marine ecosystems and threaten the life of endangered species. Shipping accounts for 60-90 % of the introduction of exotic species into new territories (Sardain, Sardain, and Leung 2019) and approximately 42 of threatened or endangered species are at high risk due to invasive species (The National Wildlife Federation 2020). Another aspect that is threatening for marine wildlife is the low frequencies emitted by the freighters, they are causing severe earring defects, communication problems and difficulties to orient themselves (Southall et al. 2017).
Even if the share of shipping is globally seen not the biggest, and in Switzerland's CO2-emission analysis transport by ship is even only mentioned in the category “others” (IEA, n.d.), it is a sector that has a lot of potential for improvement and needs to be taken in consideration not only for this fact but as it has various other negative environmental and social impacts and can be assumed to increase in the future.
Airplanes are the means of transportation with the highest emissions per passenger kilometer (see Figure 2‑6 below) and an extreme intensity of emissions per time unit. Moreover, airplanes do not “only” have CO2 emissions, in addition they also produce non-CO2 emissions which may have similar heating effects than CO2 emission. With multiple passengers per car, an electric car or even a bus or train, the emissions are much lower. Moreover, by being much faster, air travel gives people the option to travel longer distances than they would by car and so considerably increase their travel-related emissions in absolute terms.
Aviation in Switzerland:
The aviation sector is growing faster than any other sector in mobility (see Figure 2‑7). About a third of the distance is traveled by airplane, 8’986 km of 24’849 km to be exact (FSO 2019d). Aviation leads to climate change through two different pathways. One pathway is through the emission of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion. In Switzerland, at least about 12% of CO2 emissions are from aviation, worldwide only 2-2.5% (BAZL, n.d.)(Die Bundesversammlung 2019a). The second pathway is from short-lived greenhouse gases - primarily water and particles – coming from high altitude combustion. These can combine to form persistent contrails, which may have a significant warming effect. There are, however, great uncertainties when it comes to analyzing the impact of non-CO2-factors of aviation, which makes it difficult to quantify the total impact of airplanes on the climate. In 2015, the WWF attributed to aviation 18% of climate warming effects in Switzerland (WWF, n.d.).
In 2018, aviation fuel made up 9.7% of Swiss energy consumption, a total of 1’858’000 tons aviation fuel (SFOE 2020), resulting in 5.74 million tons CO2 annually, on average, about 0.8 tons per person (Die Bundesversammlung 2019a). This has to be compared with the total current emissions of 5 tons per citizen (not including imports, which are adding another 6 tons), and the federal target of 1 to 1.5 tons per person by 2050 (FOEN 2018). As a reference, an economy return flight to New York produces about 2 tons CO2 (myclimate, n.d.).
In 2018, 77% of air passengers had destinations in Europe (FSO 2019d); the most prominent reasons are fast travel time and convenience (FSO 2019d). Hence, very often people choose flights over alternatives, even if they are available. Swiss citizens take about 0.8 trips a year, split into 0.1 for work and 0.7 for leisure/holidays. People with higher income fly much more than poorer people (FSO 2019d), meaning privileged people cause much more harm with their lifestyle than the rest of the population.
At the moment, there are very limited technical possibilities for making flying carbon dioxide neutral. Due to its high energy density, kerosene will probably continue to be the primary energy source for aviation. Since electrical batteries are too heavy and biofuels cause additional problems such as land conflicts and deforestation as well as hydrogen fuel cells use too much space in airplanes. Synthetic fuels made from renewable energy is the most promising option for the next decades. However, it is a technology that has to be still tested and implemented in the coming decades. One of the biggest global challenges will be to produce enough surplus renewable energy to synthesize such fuel. It is unlikely that significant quantities of synthetic fuel would be produced in Switzerland, due to relatively weak solar and wind resources, and issues of land availability.
Change in Consumer Behavior
Flying has become very affordable. While it used to be a privilege, flying is now seen as a necessity to maintain a particular lifestyle. The decreased cost of flights in the past decades, triggered a significant increase in flights for leisure as well as jobs requiring flying multiple times per week. A deep change in the consumer behavior will be needed to achieve the goal of net-zero CO2 emission by 2030.
The reasons for aviation’s low cost are its speed -- which reduces labor and capital costs per passenger kilometer -- and its efficient infrastructure requirements relative to ground transportation, for which road and rail networks need to be built and maintained. Moreover, flying benefits from fiscal exemptions and other indirect subsidies. The long-term goal is to make aviation clean. In the meantime, there is a need to drastically reduce aviation and long-distance transportation in general.
Policy Measures: Ground Transport
Policy 2.1: Re-Prioritization of the Traffic System
Policy 2.2: Reallocation of Existing Infrastructure
Policy 2.3: Introduction of a New Smart Multimodality for People and Cargo
Policy 2.4: Car-Free Cities
Policy 2.5: Suspension of Federal Road Construction
Policy 2.6: Prohibition on the Sale of Fossil Vehicle Fuel and Fossil Electricity
Policy 2.7: Prohibition on the Sale of New Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles
Policy 2.8: Prohibition of Heavy and Overpowered Passenger Cars
Policy 2.9: Implementation of an Environmental Steering Levy and Road-Use Tax
Policy 2.10: Decrease the Number of Home Delivery Services and Switch to Bikes
Policy 2.11: Limitation of Commuter Deduction
Policy 2.12: Reduction of Maximum Speed
Policy 2.13: Introduction of a Monthly Car-Free Day
Policy 2.14: Stop the Expansion of the Rhine Ports in Basel
Policy 2.15: Introduction of Standards for Embarked Goods
Policy 2.16: Regulating Motorized Boats and Ships for Private, Public and Commercial Use
Policy 2.17: Cap on Tons of Imported in Switzerland
Policy 2.18: Imposing Standards for Ships belonging to Swiss Companies
Policy 2.19: No Subsidies and Tax Breaks for Aviation
Policy 2.20: Alternative Fuel - Synthetic Fuel from Renewable Energy
Policy 2.21: Aviation Taxation
Policy 2.22: Emissions Cap
Policy 2.23: Ban Short-Haul Flights
Policy 2.24: Ban Private Jets and other Forms of Luxury Aviation
Policy 2.25: Compensation of other Climate Change Effects besides CO2
Policy 2.26: General Efficiency Measures
Policy 2.27: Support for People affected by the Decline in Aviation
Policy 2.28: Support for Alternatives to Aviation
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