The German government’s 2050 Climate Action Plan aims for a 40 to 42% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector by 2030. This is an enormously ambitious goal, especially as the sector’s emissions have remained persistently high during the past quarter century. If these emissions are to decrease, a sea of change in transport policy is needed.
There are various strategies for achieving this goal, but they all have two aspects in common: they are complex, and they necessitate long-term planning. Infrastructure investments and automobile standards, to name just two examples, have far-reaching consequences that unfold over many years. The option of following multiple technology paths simultaneously is expensive, and some are mutually incompatible. Moreover, reversing course after deciding on one strategy is very costly.
Precise, quantitative models are needed to minimise sources of conflict and friction. By drawing on robust data, these models can provide an accurate picture of the current transport system, allowing us to consider various scenarios for its future development. Clearly, rigorous models for forecasting climate impacts must inform the development of sustainable transport strategies.