Green wheels

By Milind K Pathak
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015 | 03:16:47 AM

TRANSPORTATION AND ENERGY: STRATEGIES FOR A SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM Daniel Sperling and Susan A Shaheen . American Council for an Energy- Efficient Economy . Washington D C and Berkeley, California . Unpriced

Strategies to checkmate the pr THE World Commission on Environmental Development, 1987, gave way to the famous Brundtland Commission Report titled Our Common Future. This report, for the first time, made 'sustainability' a major international issue and gave it a much wider relevance in the process. Thus, sustainability came to be associated with equity, international trade, perhaps even technological development.

The issue of sustainability has recently been discussed in the context of transportation systems. It was realised that problems and concerns about energy-efficiency, the quality of the environment, traffic congestion and inequities between social classes were inexplicably linked with transportation systems and strategies, making it necessary to conduct a renewed scrutiny. As a result, nations across the giobe started "exploring the possibilities of a new paradigm in transportation that would require citizens, policymakers and planners to shift @o a more sustainable approach towards transportation and planning". This led to the conference on Strategies for a Sustainable Transportation System, held in August, 1993, in Pacific Grove, California, us. The book under review offers a selection of papers presented at this conference.

The book comprises of four parts, each supplementing the other. It more or less canvasses the entire spectrum of transportation strategies and policies. The first part, which consists of only one chapter, edited by Deborah Gordan, serves not only as the introductory chapter to the entire volume but also sets the tempo for the chapters that follow. Besides defining the notion of sustainable transportation, Gordan also offers recommendations for achieving it. She, however, admits that the concept is a slippery one like other not-easily-definable ones as "sound economy" or a "good school sys- tem". Says Gordan, "All of us are for it but no one is certain what the other means by it." Parts two and three of the book deal with largescale changes in transportation systems, modeling and forecasting for passenger as well as freight, case studies, the use of energy (in terms of alternative and more efficient fuels) and emissions along with alternative vehicles. On the whole, this section is the most technical. The last and fourth part of the book examines the use of market-based and technology-forcing regulatory approaches. This section deals with a host of initiatives, ranging from demand management modeling to examining the effectiveness of pricing policies to analysing the same in a host of developed countries. It also enumerates the efforts made to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles. The informaiion has been substantiated by models as well as case studies. All the sections are lucid and easily comprehensible.

The book has contributed to analysing and planning "the need for a paradigm shift in our current transportation and energy worldview, policies for reducing travel demand, travel forecasting models, high- o ccupancy-vehicle alternatives, alternatives to freight transportation, alternative fuel vehicles and zero emission-vehicle mandate, and the role of social costs".

A distraction for the non American reader is the constant reference to the us. The same comment would be applicable to the selection of papers included and for the parent conference as well. The subject at hand is more global than local in nature. Thus, for sustainable transportation to succeed and for "transportation policy to be effective, it is necessary to take into account the range of interests at stake and wide public participation".

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