National infrastructure plan leads to increased environmental impact
Today’s transport planning is in conflict with transport policy objectives and will produce an increased environmental impact. As a result, they don’t contribute to long-term sustainable transport services. These are some of the conclusions KTH researchers Göran Finnveden and Jonas Åkerman have found which will be presented at an international conference in Linköping tomorrow, 10 May.
The study analyses both the national infrastructure plan for 2010-2021 and the planning of the Stockholm Bypass. The researchers wanted to study whether the transport plans would make it easier or more difficult to achieve the environmental objectives, and the transport policy objective of long-term sustainable transport services. The conclusion is that the plans in many cases will produce an increased environmental impact.
The Swedish Transport Agency investigated several options when the Stockholm Bypass was being planned. It was noted that the Stockholm Bypass was a poor alternative for the environment and climate. Subsequent studies also show that the Bypass leads to increased emissions of greenhouse gases.
The Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) however, underestimates emissions in both cases by failing to include the emissions from the construction of roads and railways in a proper manner.
“Failing to include the emissions from the construction of roads and railways means that the comparison of different options may be distorted,” says Göran Finnveden, Professor at the Department of Environmental Strategic Analysis at KTH.
Other assumptions also lead to an underestimation of the emissions.
“Optimistic assumptions are made about the use of renewable fuels and electric vehicles, and emissions from the production of fuels are also ignored,” says Jonas Åkerman, head of research at the Department of Environmental Strategic Analysis at KTH.
Another finding of this study is that the long-term climate and environment objectives do not have an obvious place in the planning processes. They are neither included as clear objectives for the planning processes nor as a factor which may affect the transport system.
“The fact that long-term climate objectives are not included in the planning process means in practice that plans are being made for a society that will fail to reach its climate goals. And then there is a major risk that they will not be reached,” says Göran Finnveden.
In order to better integrate environmental and climate issues, researchers suggest several changes in the planning processes:
- When the objectives of the planning processes are formulated, long-term environmental and climate objectives must be included.
- If environmental and sustainability objectives are not reached, new alternatives which can be reached, must be developed.
- The project objectives and other starting points for the work must not contain solutions but must instead be open for different options.
- Environmental assessments must include updated data and methods and take into account relevant aspects.
- Long-term climate and environmental objectives should be included in the planning process as a factor which may affect the future transport system.
For more information, contact Göran Finnveden on 08-790 73 18 / email@example.com or Jonas Åkerman on 08-790 73 02 /firstname.lastname@example.org.