Handbook of Sustainable Transport
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Handbook of Sustainable Transport

Edited by Carey Curtis

Exploring the need for a sustainable transport paradigm, which has been sought after by local and national authorities internationally over the last 30 years, this illuminating and timely Handbook offers insights into how this can be secured more broadly and what it may involve, as well as the challenges that the sustainable transport approach faces. The Handbook offers readers a holistic understanding of the paradigm by drawing on a wide range of research and relevant case studies that showcase where the principles of sustainable transport have been implemented.
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Chapter 31: CBA legitimizes unsustainable transportation outcomes

Peter Næss


This chapter illuminates ways in which cost-benefit analyses as practiced in most countries tend to depict unsustainable transport solutions in urban regions in a too positive light. The valuation of negative environmental impacts tends to be grossly underestimated, particularly effects such as CO2 emissions. The discounting of future effects aggravates this by seriously diminishes long-term environmental impacts. Induced traffic from road construction in urban areas is often underestimated, especially long-term induced traffic resulting from urban sprawl facilitated by easier access to farther-away destinations. Moreover, environmental impacts pertaining to the construction period are often neglected or underestimated. Due to the method’s tendency of underestimating adverse environmental effects while overestimating travel time savings, cost-benefit analyses tend to legitimize a high spending of society’s resources on road construction and delegitimize environmental opposition against road capacity expansion.

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