Guest blog: Technology can decarbonise the transport sector and tackle climate change – we need the right framework to support us
According to the UK’s independent Climate Change Committee, this country is significantly off track to meet its legal climate targets, and the window of time to avert the most devastating consequences of climate breakdown is narrowing. If it wasn't already abundantly clear, we need to act now to rapidly decarbonise our economy, and the transport sector has a major role in this. Our founding purpose at TIER is to support that goal, tackling climate change and cleaning up the air we breathe by changing the way people move around their cities. Of course our e-bikes and e-scooters play a part in this, but without adequate infrastructure improvements, we risk missing out on the mass modal shift required.
Evidence shows that electric vehicles, including fleets of shared modes like e-scooters and e-bikes, can play a crucial role in meeting the UK’s climate targets, by getting people out of their cars, cutting carbon emissions and supporting greener travel. Our latest research project which surveyed over 8,000 people across European cities, showed that around 17% of our rides already replace car journeys – meaning that we have replaced more than 12 million car journeys since founding TIER. Data from our e-bike schemes in the UK shows that 35-50% of e-bike trips would have been made by a car if an e-bike had been unavailable, demonstrating the genuinely significant progress that could be made if we saw mass adoption.
At TIER, which is a carbon neutral company, we also use cutting-edge rider-swappable batteries in an industry first, with riders able to quickly exchange a low power battery for fully charged ones in exchange for a free ride. Our charging network and swappable battery technology could help to revolutionise urban transport and help to electrify cities, reducing the need for congesting vehicles driving around the city replacing batteries.
But this isn’t just about ‘high tech’ vehicles – it’s about using technology to shift behavioural patterns. For example, TIER is integrated with apps and functions like Google Maps, CityMapper and Zipabout, which enable people to make more sustainable choices by making them as accessible and convenient as possible. By including information about micro-mobility options in these apps, people can more easily use e-scooters and e-bikes for one leg of a wider journey, along with public transport. Access, enabling choice, and using data to offer real-time travel information make a real difference, encouraging people to think differently about their journey or showing them another way is possible.
Encouraging behavioural change is complex, however, and there is no silver bullet. If we are to meet the climate emergency, operators of all modes, and the transport authorities they partner with, must work together, sharing their unique insights into patterns of behaviour and barriers to e-vehicle and public transport adoption, to drive down emissions throughout the entire sector. We need the right frameworks in place, both the regulatory frameworks to support technology companies to offer their services, and the physical frameworks - the right infrastructure - to encourage consumers into more sustainable travel habits. For example, there has been a significant increase in cycling in London in the last years, supported by Tfl’s record growth in the capital’s cycling network over the past five years.
In the next decade, micro-mobility, which is at the forefront of transport technology development, should play an important role in decarbonising transport. Like the cycle lane development in London, authorities across the UK should consider how cities can be better designed to encourage modal switch to greener transport options.
By connecting the dots between town planning, vehicle technology and journey planning technology, we can seriously move the dial on vehicle emissions and ensure that our sector plays a significant role in fighting the climate emergency. The alternative simply isn't worth thinking about.
Georgia Yexley, General Manager at TIER Mobility as a part of techUK's Future of Mobility Campaign Week
To read more from Future of Mobility Campaign Week check out our landing page here.
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