Low carbon mobility (LCM) features strongly in the debates about the sustainability of cities and their resilience in the face of demographic, economic, and climate change. Transport is a major source of carbon emissions and there are indications that these continue to increase, despite the considerable recent advances in vehicle, engine, and fuel technologies. Reducing carbon emissions from transport may be becoming more difficult, not easier. Further, just what constitutes low carbon mobility is a key concern for researchers, policy makers, and analysts alike. There is an emerging international consensus that significant research on low carbon mobility is needed, largely because of the complexity of the topic and the need for packages of mutually reinforcing policies and strategies. An optimum blend of technological development, infrastructure planning, innovative policy developments, and community behavior change is apparent. Each of those areas requires substantial research in its own right, and then the optimum combination needs to be explored. One major question is just what policies should be considered and how the policy settings can be optimized. For example, the specific development processes of individual cities may significantly affect the feasibility and effectiveness of different policies.
This article reveals some of the research issues identified as important for low carbon mobility include health co-benefits of active transport modes, demand estimation and forecasting accounting for travel behavior change, the utilization of electric and alternative fuel vehicles and implications for infrastructure provision, mechanisms for decoupling economic performance and transport emissions, urban form and land use–transport integration, and travel substitution. The specification, formulation, and development of LCM modeling, interpretation, and visualization tools also need attention.
This article is an introduction of the special issue of International Journal of Sustainable Transportation. It is intended to provide a coherent overview of current research on low carbon mobility and the implications for future urban developments. It contains six articles that cover a number of these topics, as well as a critical review of some of the present policies related to low carbon mobility.