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Due to the more pressing need, the majority of material in this book has dealt with mitigation; interventions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (IPCC, 2001) away from a scenario of ‘business as usual’. An early academic review on climate change mitigation and transport appeared in 2007 (Chapman, 2007), a year before the United Kingdom committed itself to the highly ambitious Climate Change Act 2008. The final act sought an ambitious 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Although criticised in this book as being unrealistic, this is the level of intervention required if ‘dangerous’ climate change is to be avoided (defined as greater than 2°C rise in global temperatures). As Chapter 8 (a policy perspective) explains, such targets, however unrealistic, are informed by considerable input from expert opinion (e.g. Delphi studies) and require a detailed knowledge of current emissions as well as accurate predictions/scenarios of future emissions. For this reason, scenarios and the control of uncertainty were discussed in Chapter 2 towards the start of this book. Indeed, the commonly quoted ‘business as usual’ scenario is in itself too simplistic and highly improbable, not only due to mitigation measures imposed by governments, but also because of the future scarcity of oil which will force change in the medium term regardless. Backcasting is the key tool used to model the continuum of socio-economic scenarios which exist between ‘business as usual’ and the equally unlikely case of all targets being met. However, the science is inherently difficult and the end result is a wide range of permutations and storylines, largely dependent on mitigation. Early progress towards the 80% target has not been promising, but the decarbonisation of the transport sector is still seen as key in meeting the demands of the Climate Change Act 2008. There is a need to tackle the three primary culprits of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector: aviation, freight and car ownership (Chapman, 2007). This book has examined in detail how this could be achieved in all these sectors using a range of aspects relating to technological and behavioural change.
Climate change is recognised as one of the greatest challenges that contemporary global society faces. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fourth Assessment Report (2007) states that it is ‘very likely’ that anthropogenic global warming will result in a temperature rise of between 1.8°C and 4°C by the end of the 21st century. Temperatures at the upper end of this range are considered ‘dangerous’, and the international community is focused on attempting to limit the increase to within 2°C (Meinshausen et al., 2009). Increasing global temperatures are just one consequence. The world will face an increasing level of unpredictable and extreme weather patterns, each with different, but in many cases, serious consequences for life on earth (IPCC, 2007).