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Evolving Narratives of Low-Carbon Futures in Transportation

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Scenarios of low-carbon transport demonstrate that a vast range of different outcomes is possible and contingent on policy, technology and cultural developments. But a closer look indicates that different schools of thought suggest possible pathways diverging in their fine structure. This perspective reveals how three different scientific communities — integrated assessment modelers, transport-sector modelers, and place-based modelers — emphasize distinct solution domains. While integrated assessment models focus on fuel composition, transport-sector models put slightly higher emphasis on efficiency measures; in turn place-based research specifies idiosyncratic behavioral and infrastructural mitigation options that are likely to be beneficial in realizing local co-benefits. These specific local approaches could mitigate urban transport emissions by 20–50%, higher than that revealed in aggregate global models. We discuss differences in approach, possibilities for reconciliation, and the implications of normative assumptions. Targeted three-directional interactions would foster comprehensive understanding of possible low-carbon transportation futures.
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Keywords: IPCC; assessment; climate change mitigation; low-carbon transport futures; modeling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Torgauer Str. 12-15, 10829, Berlin, Germany

Publication date: May 3, 2016

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