Cycling in the IPCC 6th Assessement Report
The IPCC 6th Assessment Report (AR6) is in three parts:
- the physical science basis
- impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and
- mitigation of climate change
The three parts were published separately, from August 2021 to April 2022.
The first report, on the physical science basis, by Working Group 1, said that it is only possible to avoid warming of more than 1.5 or 2 degrees if massive and immediate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are made.
Now the lead scientist on Working Group 1, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, and Gonéri le Cozannet, have picked out the parts of AR6 relevant to cycling. It is in the form of a Powerpoint presentation with 23 slides.
Here is a selection of the points made on the slides.
1) Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transport Are 15% of the Total
In 2019, 15% of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions came from transport. Between 2010 and 2019, transport emissions grew by 2% per year.
2) Shift to Bikes and E-Bikes
A shift to bikes and e-bikes would make a modest contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is a cheap option.
3) Cycling Reduces an Individual’s Carbon Footprint
Cycling is one of the lifestyle changes with the largest potential to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. It also contributes to many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
One of those goals is good health: cycling improves cardiovascular capacity, brings mental health benefits, and reduces air pollution.
Another Sustainable Development Goal is sustainable cities and communities. Towns and cities should be compact so that people can get about using active travel.
Other lifestyle changes that reduce your carbon footprint include cutting back on air travel and moving to a plant-based diet.
4) Car-Centric Cities Can Be Transformed
Established cities that are dispersed and car-centric can reduce emissions by focusing on modal shift and improving public transport, as well as infilling and densifying.
Cities should be planned so that multiple destinations are accessible within a 10 minute walk or bike ride.
5) People Will Cycle Further on Designated Tracks in Green Surroundings
People are willing to cycle further if there are designated cycle tracks, and if there are green surroundings.
6) Private Cars are a Hard Habit to Break
People can become accustomed to using their private cars, and unwilling to change their habits.
Also, dispersed low-density housing, and car-centric infrastructure, may lock in high-carbon transportation; and car manufacturers use campaigns and lobbying to maintain the status quo.
7) Enabling Cycle Uptake
Enabling cycle uptake requires large-scale investments in low-carbon transport infrastructure. Collective social change depends on a social mandate, which can be built through public participation and debate.
The pandemic has shown that behavioural change at a massive scale in a short time is possible.