Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Policy Guidelines for Integrated Sustainable Transport Planning to meet Greenhouse Gas Targets for Wellington, New Zealand and Possible Effects on the Built Environment

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posted on 2021-12-07, 19:49 authored by Shaikh, Rehan Pervez

The increasing concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the Earth's atmosphere is resulting in an increase in the temperature of the Earth. The accumulation of GHGs is due to emissions from burning of fossil fuels for energy generation and transportation, from industrial and manufacturing processes, as well as from agriculture and other activities. To meet the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement, to which New Zealand is a signatory, will require emissions to be cut by at least 80% from current levels by or before 2050.  The transport sector through its reliance on oil accounts for approximately 15% of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Global CO₂ emissions from transport have grown by 45% from 1990 to 2007. At the same time the International Energy Agency (2013) state that by 2050 under a Business‐as‐Usual scenario global urban passenger mobility will more than double. Around half of the global population is now living in urban regions, i.e. where the environment is largely comprised of buildings and their connecting infrastructure, and this same half contributes 70% of global carbon emissions while more than 60% of the global gross domestic product is created by the revenue of only 600 cities.  In order to see whether the demands for transport and the requirement of the Paris Agreement can be met simultaneously, the approach in this study is to establish goals for CO₂ emissions reduction together with Business‐as‐Usual as a benchmark, and then to see how, and the extent to which, existing mobility services for the city of Wellington could be supplied within these targets. The forms of transport that might be needed for provision of these mobility services are also described. The bottom line of this study is that we are dealing with a long run problem and now is the time to think of what structure (in terms of built environment, technological improvement and behavioural changes) should be adopted for Wellington's transport at the earliest possible time since this structure will determine energy and emissions intensities for many years to come.  While it may not be desirable or feasible to entirely remove motor vehicles for the sake of sustainability the baseline situation (Business‐As‐Usual) should not be permitted as much acceleration as it is currently showing. Improving vehicle efficiencies, substituting lower carbon fuels for existing fossil fuels, shifting and avoiding strategies, human behavioural improvements, and national, regional and local policy frameworks all need to work together for mitigation of emissions. Coordinated policies within the transport portfolio, combining land use and transport agencies are needed which will produce outcomes perhaps only after 10 to 20 years to meet objectives of the sustainable transport journey towards a greener future.  This research explores the possibility of significantly lower emission urban transport without significantly curtailing mobility services in terms of per capita distance travelled while meeting the overall level of emissions that will satisfy the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement. It does this for a single city in a particular geographic location but its findings have implications for cities across the world.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Vale, Robert; Isaacs, Nigel