Not acting now on sustainable urban mobility will cost lives

With pollution set to become the world's leading cause of mortality, green transport could be the key to saving our planet, writes Karima Delli.

By Karima Delli

Karima Delli (FR, Greens/EFA) is chair of Parliament’s Transport and Tourism committee

30 Jun 2015

Urban mobility plays a central role in the lives of Europeans. It is estimated that cities will be home to nearly 80 per cent of the world's population by 2050, placing transport at the heart of future EU economic, social, environmental and health issues.

As Europe gears up to host the international climate summit in Paris, time is running out - our planet is heating up irreversibly, and there is no 'planet B'. 

Sustainable mobility is one of the keys to preserving our climate. Within the union, transport is the only sector whose greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase since 1990. In the urban environment, it represents 25 per cent of all CO2 emissions in Europe.


This climate emergency means we must urgently transition from urban to sustainable mobility. If we want to reach the 2030 emissions objectives we have set ourselves, the EU has no choice but to reverse the trend.

According to the UN, by 2050, pollution will be the world's leading cause of mortality. While each year we experience more than 400,000 premature deaths due to fine particles given off principally by diesel engines, we prefer to closet our fragile populations at home, rather than to act.

With the urban sprawl affecting our European cities, more and more citizens spend a significant portion of their time and income on travel.

In this regard, nowadays access to mobility has become a factor giving rise to inequality. While the number of Europeans at risk of falling into poverty and social exclusion is estimated at 25 per cent, mobility is, therefore, more than ever a lever for acting on social inclusion.

In Europe, 38 per cent of deaths due to traffic accidents occur in cities, and last year the total number of serious injuries on the roads increased by three per cent. We have the means to change this situation. 

That is why my report suggests the drawing up of a transport climate package, which will fix ambitious objectives for low-carbon transport. 

In terms of urban mobility, it lays the foundations for mobility in a calm, low-carbon town, respectful of its citizens and environment.

Because we must support innovation and consider cities in terms of technological advances, it's time we left behind the private car model. I propose encouraging urban centres to eradicate diesel by 2020 and reduce the use of cars powered by traditional fuels in urban areas by 2030. I also want the rate of bicycle use in urban areas to double by 2025.

From now on, priority must be given to plans for sustainable urban mobility and clean transport: trams, cableways, bicycles and car-sharing, while actively working on the modal shift and inter-modality. For this reason, I suggest doubling the collective public transport network and its use by 2030.

To all the sceptics out there, my message is very clear: failure to act will be deadly; only an active policy of innovative and sustainable mobility will give Europe hope for a less polluted future.


Read the most recent articles written by Karima Delli - EU Mobility Week: A change of paradigm