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Sustain to gain: June 2011 Archives

"It is a dark day for Europe's leading role in tackling climate change", said the British energy secretary Chris Huhne. Poland had just rejected to sign on the Commission's "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050". According to this roadmap, indicative intermediate target for 2020, 2030 and 2040 would have been set, e.g. suggesting but not mandating a 25% reduction target for 2020 below 1990 levels. However, even the indication was not bearable for Poland, risking increased friction to other EU member states just before taking over the EU presidency.

Indeed, this is not the first time that Poland applies the brakes on EU climate policy, balking at previous allocations of emission certificates. The reason is not hard to identify: Poland is dependent on brown coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels.

It is clear that the EU has to offer Poland ways out of this dependency, e.g. providing support in to build-up an alternative infrastructures and energy saving measures. And in fact, it is likely that such a deal was part of the negotiations – but to no avail.

David Vincent from the British Carbon Trust has done a more thorough analysis of the Polish situation. In brief, the Polish elite does not yet see the benefits of a low-carbon economy; the coal lobby (coal companies but also miners' unions and allies in government) is traditionally strong while the environmental voice is rather quiet. Possibly, a Carbon Trust for Poland, supporting business in implementing low-carbon solutions, but also more activity from civil society could contribute to a mental change and subsequent policy change.

Pedestrians

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GOPR1450_pedestrian-crossing

Image by RaeA via Flickr


by Julia Römer and Felix Creutzig

Walking constitutes a particularly low-impact mode of transportation. While pedestrians can cover only relatively short distances, walking can have a high modal share and even substitute car trips if mixed-use and accessibility conditions enable neighborhood shopping and satisfaction of service demand.

What particular conditions are favorable for pedestrians? Here we summarize some insights from a recent report on Pedestrian Quality Needs in Europe (Methorst et al., 2010).

First, the safety of a pedestrian path network is a major factor because of its huge impact on use or avoidance of sidewalks. Safety includes two dimensions: traffic safety - being save from accidents and motorised vehicles; and subjective feeling of safety. Measures that reduce motorised traffic, lower motorised traffic speed or reduce crossing times of pedestrians increase traffic safety.One example is the implementation of so called Home Zones with reduced speed limits of 10 miles an hour. To improve the subjective feeling of safety the sidewalk's design has to be pedestrian-friendly. An adequate illumination of a sidewalk at night is an example for improvement.

Second, a pedestrian path network has to give pedestrians the chance to get to their destination as quickly as possible. Barriers, needless detour or waiting time leads to modal shift to less environmentally-friendly modes. Measures that improve the directness of a pedestrian path network, the connection with public transport or reduce waiting time therefore make sense. Examples are the implementation of scramble signals on large intersections, or same level pedestrian networks.

Third, walking has to be more attractive compared to other transport modes. Important indicators for the attractiveness of a pedestrian path network are accessibility and land-use. Pedestrian networks can be made more attractive by diverse design of the built environment, a multitude of options for pedestrian use, and active street life.

The report on Pedestrian Quality Needs brings together crucial insights on pedestrians. Nonetheless, scientific analysis is still far away from operationalizing pedestrian demand and supply in a systemic perspective.


Methorst R., Monterde i Bort H., Risser R., Sauter D., Tight M. & Walker J. (Eds.) (2010) Pedestrians' Quality Needs. Final Report of the COST project 358, Cheltenham: Walk21.

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