WWF Ecomobility seminar at University Technology Petronas
Focus recently contributed the the World wild Life Federation (WWF) Ecomobility seminar at University Technology Petronas (UTP). A panel of several experts on ecomobility and urban sustainability spoke, emphasizing the need for first-last mile connectivity to mass transport systems, pedestrian friendly urban design, and etc.
One significant point we emphasized is that social pressure and individual conscientiousness, while important, are not sufficient to push society towards sustainable and ecological practices. This is based on two main flaws in human nature: we tend to be financially short-sited, and the environment is a shared resource, thus susceptible to the "tragedy of the commons". Consumers will tend to purchase low-cost, less efficient options, which actually cost more in the long run (eg. buying a 2-stroke motorcycle because the cost is lower than a 4-stroke, although the fuel consumption is greater, negating the savings in the long run). Additionally if an individual gives up his share of the global petroleum resources, someone else will happily consume them without a second thought for the environment. Thus it is one of the fundamental roles of good governance to encourage the population to make efficient choices. This can be done by ensuring that ecological transportation options (eg. buses, trains) are available, convenient, and reasonably priced, and that inefficient options are proportionally more expensive (eg. individual car ownership). A balance must be achieved where ordinary citizens have the option of clean, efficient transport, and chose that over inefficient options. Ideally this is a "zero sum game" for the government, neither profiting nor losing money to the effort, where inefficiency is taxed and efficiency is subsidized proportionally. This should also provide the lowest overall cost of transportation for the majority of the public.