Transition towards Sustainable Mobility – Investigation of Relevant Factors for Sustainable Behaviour
SUPERVISOR: Astrid GÜHNEMANN
PROJECT ASSIGNED TO: Nora SPIEGEL
Climate change and environmental issues have attracted widespread attention in recent years. Policymakers and authorities on local, regional and national levels have intensified their efforts to identify suitable policies and measures to reduce carbon emissions. According to the emissions by source sector, the biggest pollutants on a European level are energy supply, transport, industry, residential and commercial emitters and agriculture (EEA 2017). The Austrian Environmental Agency reports that about 28 percent of domestic carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to transport (UBA 2018). Adhering to the Paris agreement, the government has mandated a reduction of 36 percent by 2030 compared to the emission levels from 1990 (UBA 2018). So far the measures and policies that have been introduced to achieve that reduction have not produced the necessary results and further action is needed. Besides reduction through technology, innovation and economic measures, behavioural change is required for a sustainable development. It is essential to achieve a reduction in the vehicle kilometres travelled by individual motorised vehicle by accomplishing a modal shift towards more sustainable forms of transport.
In recent years, the concept of sustainability has increasingly been included in the public and academic discourse. Yet, restrictive policy measures that could enforce behavioural change are rarely being introduced and the effectiveness of various measures is subject to intense debate. The impact of potential softer interventions has become an increasingly important subject of research in various scientific disciplines. Behavioural change is considered to be a fundamental aspect of the development towards sustainability but the optimal path and the most effective method are still being discussed.
This doctoral thesis will focus on the mechanisms of behavioural change within the context of mobility. Research has found that environmental knowledge, awareness of potential consequences of individual choices and the inclination towards environmentally friendly behaviour (attitude and values) do not directly result in more sustainable behaviour (Anabel et al. 2006). The main objective of this doctoral project is the exploration of the discrepancy between values and attitudes towards sustainability and the actual activities performed. Within the context of mobility, mode choice, distance travelled and occupancy rate, among other factors, could be used as parameters of the sustainability of individual mobility actions. This gap between values and actions has already been described within the context of general environmental behaviour and waste management in particular (Blake 1999, Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002, Barr 2007). The examination of the determining factors of sustainable mobility behaviour and their relevance is at the focus of this thesis.
Anable, J., Lane, B., Kelay, T. (2006). An evidence base review of public attitudes to climate change and transport behaviour. London, Department for Transport, (July). Available at: http://www.pdfwww.china-up.com:8080/international/case/case/1457.pdf .
Barr, S. (2007). Factors Influencing Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors – A U.K. Case Study of Household Waste Management. Environment and Behavior, 39(4), pp. 435-473.
Blake, J. (1999) Overcoming the ‘value–action gap’ in environmental policy: tensions between national policy and local experience, Local Environment, 4(3), pp. 257–278.
Kollmuss, A., Agyeman, J. (2002). Mind the Gap: Why Do People Act Environmentally and What Are the Barriers to pro-Environmental Behavior? Environmental Education Research 8(3), pp. 239–260.
EEA - European Environment Agency (2017). Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2015 and inventory report 2017 Submission to the UNFCCC Secretariat. EEA Report, Brussels.
UBA - Umweltbundesamt (2018). Klimaschutzbericht 2018. Medieninhaber und Herausgeber: Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Vienna.