– 23 February 2010: Australia’s cities face a bleak future of more traffic congestion and doubling of greenhouse gas emissions unless transport problems are tackled at every level of government, according to a study released today at the Green Cities 2010 conference in Melbourne.

But tackling the problems was likely to produce tangible benefits such as healthier communities, more accessible services, appropriate responses to demographic change, and more efficient use of land and infrastructure.

Cities for the future: Baseline report and key issues, commissioned by the Australian Sustainable Built
Environment Council examined two major cities, Greater Melbourne and South-East Queensland to show transport-related greenhouse gas emissions will increase in those areas by almost 50 per cent and travel times increase by quarter in the period to 2041.

ASBEC President, Tom Roper the results were “clarion call to our federal, state and local governments that swift, decisive action is required to deliver better transport systems in Australia’s cities.”

Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the Green Building Council Australia and task group chair, said
the analysis “clearly shows that, without action to change the way people live, work and play in our cities,
our transport challenges will only get worse.

“However, in raising sustainability and reducing emissions, we are likely to realise other tangible benefits, such as healthier communities, more accessible services, appropriate responses to demographic change, and more efficient use of land and infrastructure.”

The report is part of a four stage project that aims to explore and measure the links  between greenhouse gas emissions from urban transport and land use within our cities.

The next stage of the project is to develop alternative frameworks for land use, transport, environmental outcomes and community planning that would change the current trajectory.

Key findings for the study centred on Greater Melbourne and South East Queensland include:

  • Urban centres will become more transport intensive and less transport efficient: The total
    amount of passenger travel and time spent travelling in cities is forecast to grow more than
    proportionally to population and employment.
  • Transport is forecast to be slower: Average trip speed (kilometres per hour) is projected to
    decrease in both regions studied in the report by around 10 to 13 per cent by2041.
  • Transport outcomes are likely to deteriorate: people in both cities are projected to spend more
    time travelling per day and to travel longer distances. People in South East Queensland and Greater
    Melbourne will see their travel time increase by approximately 26 and 23 per cent, respectively, by
    2041.
  • Transport GHG emissions are projected to rise in the studied urban centres: Emissions in
    South East Queensland are projected to have thelargest increase, rising by 75 per cent between 2006
    and 2041.
  • Land transport GHG emissions from within urban Australia are projected to rise
    substantially under the baseline scenario:  Without additional policy interventions these emissions
    are projected to rise from an estimated 41 megatonnes per annum in 2006 to 60megatonnes in 2041
    –an increase of 46 per cent.
  • The need for mobility and its costs will increase:  Overall, the analysis shows that the need for
    mobility and its costs in terms of time and harmful impacts upon the environment will increase. These
    adverse changes are expected to outpace the growth in underlying population and represent a
    challenge for future transport networks.