Editorial by Josette Combes, RIPESS Europe
The transport sector is the leading emitter of greenhouse gases and its impacts on the environment are numerous: air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, landscape modification or contribution to climate change. However, it is not the central subject of public communication and it is much more present in the concerns of citizens who are pushing for the difficult issue of transport to begin its transformation. After the all-car model imported from the States (with the aggravation of SUVs, Sport Utility Vehicle, space and fuel eaters), we are seeking to slow down. And to substitute what is greedy in fossil energy and generous in pollution. Less plane each time we can use a less polluting mode of circulation namely the train, or even the boat if it can relay its engines by solar energy and wind. Travels are reduced by reorienting the forms of exchange. Fewer trucks between countries to transport products that everyone can obtain by calling on local producers, and he promoters of solidarity short supply chains are the ones most often at the maneuver. The car is becoming banned in city centers, thanks in particular to the recent velorution. To encourage its abandonment, municipalities propose alternatives: the development of public transport: trams, metros, they are free in Luxembourg or in some European cities. Cycling is increasingly privileged and cities are required to develop bike paths that can also be used by scooters (rather dangerous for pedestrians when they are used on sidewalks). Intermodality is organized to switch from train to bicycle with the arrival in stations of secure parking for individual bicycles where they can wait wisely for the return of their road partners. The arrival of the electric bike reduces the difficulty of travelling long distances, increasing the number of potential users. Bicycle deliveries replace polluting and bulky vans (example of cargonomia in Budapest). Carpooling after being kidnapped by the start-up Bla bla car found in France its solidarity formula with Mobicoop. Similarly, the rail regains color and some abandoned circuits are rehabilitated. There is a kind of paradoxical injunction: to move no longer but to move enough all the same for public transport to be maintained. In some municipalities, carriage transport is even being restored (see Ungersteim’s experience in France, linked to a broader ecological transition policy). In Greece, experiments are aimed at replacing the boats engine with solar energy and sails, a kind of backpedaling in a country that has 227 islands regularly invaded by tourists, which intensifies traffic at sea. The Greek initiative also aims to provide new markets for small producers.
The solidarity economy is teeming with initiatives, most often in cooperative form, to reduce the impact of mobility on global warming, by inventing alternatives to the all-thermic energy. Struggles are associated with it to prevent projects considered useless in the era of the IPCC which warns us all without really being heard by the decision-making bodies: airport extensions, superfluous motorways, high-speed lines, all of thel leading to degradations of lands, noise and pollution that mobilized citizens are trying to prevent. They become for big corporations nuisances who are increasingly exposed to reprisals with more and more often infringement of the right to demonstrate. The next issue of our newsletter in May will examine the issue of human rights and their endangerment in many countries.
The radical transformation of our modes of travel once again requires a change of imagination: considering speed in its right value and accepting to slow down to last longer, a useful precept in many circumstances. “Chi va piano, va sano e lontano!”