The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 2006/2007

The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 2006/2007

A Survey of Current Issues

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Tom Tietenberg and Henk Folmer

This major annual publication presents a comprehensive overview of cutting-edge issues in environmental and resource economics.

Chapter 5: Transport and the Environment

Piet Rietveld

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Piet Rietveld INTRODUCTION Transport is a major contributor to some of our environmental problems, at both the local and the global level. In many countries substantial efforts have been made to reduce these problems, and often with substantial success. Nevertheless environmental problems related to transport appear difficult to curb. Long-run projections indicate substantial scope for further growth in transport demand, of both passengers and freight (Schafer, 1998; OECD, 2002). And opportunities to reduce emissions from transport activity usually lead to various rebound effects, which means that the final improvement in environmental performance of transport is disappointing or even absent. Hence it is no surprise that the theme of sustainable transport has attracted substantial attention among researchers during the last decade, and one may expect that it will continue to do so. One of the indications of the research interest in the theme is that it generated its own scientific journal, Transport and Environment (Transportation Research D), which first appeared in 1996. The notion of sustainable transport – useful as it may be to mobilize attention to environmental problems related to transport – has some limitations that deserve special mention. A main problem is that it tends to focus on transport per se, without incorporating the environmental effects of production and consumption activities it is meant to support. Thus themes such as spatially varying externalities in production activities are not incorporated. This may lead to sub-optimization since the spatial organization of production and consumption has far-reaching effects...

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