Energy transition is happening quickly and disruptively in the transportation sector. But it is generally an open question whether the transition currently at hand is producing socially beneficial results. As we grapple with a sudden influx of new modes of mobility and business models, and contemplate the dawning of an entirely new mobility paradigm, are we just letting technology take us wherever it wants to go, or are we guiding technologies toward sustainable mobility? For that matter, what does sustainable mobility even mean? How can we weigh up all the pros and cons of new mobility modes—not just the social effects like safety and equity, but the environmental impacts, the total impact on the energy system, and the socioeconomic strategies we bring to our urban development and civic planning activities more generally? Can we hedge our bets against sudden and massive dislocations produced by autonomous vehicles? We explore all those questions and more in this episode with a researcher from Oxford University who has studied them deeply.
Debbie Hopkins is Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Oxford. Her position is split between the Sustainable Urban Development program, the Transport Studies Unit, and the School of Geography and the Environment. Debbie is a research affiliate of the Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago, New Zealand and Associate Editor of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism. Debbie has co-edited two books on transitions: Low Carbon Mobility Transitions (Goodfellow) in 2016, and Transitions in Energy Efficiency and Demand (Routledge) in 2018, both of which build upon her research interests across climate change, low-carbon futures and sociotechnical transitions. At Oxford, she leads research into expectations of automation in freight, everyday experiences of UK truckers, and novel methodologies for researching mobile work.
Recording date: April 15, 2019
Air date: May 29, 2019
Geek rating: 2