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Brazil Ranks 52nd in the Global Ranking of Sustainable Mobility

por Ericson Scorsim

nov 11, 2022

The World Bank, together with other partners, has released a global sustainable mobility ranking.  This ranking assesses indicators such as universal access to mobility, safety, efficiency, and sustainability. The ranking covers several transportation modes: cars, buses, motorcycles, trains, ships, and bicycles, among others. 

The World Bank and other entities have a sustainable mobility program called Sustainable Mobility for All, with suggestions for public policies on the subject, see www.sum4all. org. See also: Catalogue of policy measures 2.0 – toward sustainable mobility, in Sustainable Mobility for All.  This program has the following action axes: accessibility to mobility services, efficiency, safety, sustainability, and gender clause.  Regarding the latter axis, it evaluates policies to include women in the mobility sector, as well as issues related to protection for women in public transportation systems. This ranking is aligned with the sustainable development goals established by the UN.  These are some of the UN sustainable development goals: good health and well-being (goal 3), industry, innovation, and infrastructure (goal 9), sustainable cities and communities (goal 11), responsible consumption and production (goal 12), partnerships and means of implementation (goal 17). The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 76, in July 2022, declaring the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.  Brazil must apply this international standard to ensure a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, free from noise pollution in cities. One of the goals of the global ranking is the reduction of air pollution and noise pollution produced by transport modes in cities. Sustainable electromobility is, therefore, one of the factors to reduce air and noise pollution in cities.  It should be noted that air pollution and noise pollution affect public health. This pollution degrades the environment and causes damage to the human organism. And one of the targets of public policies is the air and noise pollution caused by cities’ public transportation systems. In the report Global Roadmap of Action Toward Sustainable Mobility:Green Mobility from the World Bank’s Sustainable Mobility for All, the transportation sector is one of the main sources of air pollution and noise pollution.  And there was significant noise exposure due to acoustic pollution. Hence, the goal is to reduce excessive noise by 50% (fifty percent) by 2030, compared to 2015 levels.   According to the report, noise above 55 (fifty-five) decibels impacts the population.[1]

Reference is also made to reducing the noise produced by cars and motorcycles, with standardization measures for the efficiency of vehicles, tires, and geographical areas within cities.[2] By way of illustration, the European Union, via the European Environmental Agency, has adopted a guideline for reducing noise in transportation. There are gradual goals for reducing the noise produced by different transport modes: cars, buses, trains, airplanes, and motorcycles, among others. In Europe, low-carbon and low-noise areas are defined to protect the environmental health of cities.  In the United States, the Biden administration has adopted the Federal Sustainability Strategic Plan, with progressive targets for reducing air pollution and climate change. The government will adopt an electric vehicle fleet, sustainable buildings, and sustainable procurement of products and services. Brazil can be inspired by these models. The country and local governments must align themselves with these sustainable development goals to promote sustainable mobility, with the reduction of air and noise pollution in cities.  Sustainable electromobility in public transportation systems is therefore a fundamental condition for reducing air and noise pollution.[3]

We must think about sustainable mobility policies to protect the cognitive and auditory neurodiversity of mobility systems’ users, thus protecting mental and auditory health. It is also essential to protect vulnerable groups of citizens: people with disabilities, illnesses, etc., to promote access to sustainable mobility. In this respect, air and noise pollution must be reduced, taking into account the well-being and comfort of the users of public transportation systems, as well as the citizens who live near bus stations and the roads where public transportation buses circulate.  In my book, Anti-Urban Noise Regulatory Proposals, author’s edition, Amazon, 2022, I point out some regulatory options for fostering technological innovation in favor of promoting acoustic efficiency, as well as for appropriate regulation to contain urban noise caused by various modes of transportation. Technological innovations can contribute to the transformations needed for sustainable mobility, acoustic environmental sustainability, and the building of urban infrastructures for smart, healthy, and sustainable cities.  Sustainable electromobility: (electric cars, buses, motorcycles, and trucks), 5G technologies, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, and computer listening, will be the key tools for reducing air pollution and noise pollution. Cities need to renew their urban infrastructure, such as installing the electric charging points that are necessary for the electromobility system.

Local governments can set an example by initiating bidding models for purchases and services based on sustainable mobility. For example, by renting or buying fleets of electric vehicles. The local police forces may use electric vehicles, for example. Local governments will be able to encourage sustainable mobility ecosystems, replacing their fleets with electric buses through progressive fleet replacement targets in key areas of cities. Local governments can also encourage taxi services to adopt electric vehicles. Governments can update their acoustical zoning plans to define airplane and helicopter routes to maximize public health, welfare, and rest in residential areas.  It is also important to define areas of low carbon emission and low noise emission to protect environmental health. Governments can encourage the transition by incentivizing the purchase of electric motorcycles and electric bicycles. Finally, there are several actions to be taken by the cities, urgently, to eliminate the environmental impacts caused by mobility based on fossil fuel engines – electric motors.  The more local governments are aligned with the UN’s actions, the more conditions they will have to receive sustainable investments in the area of urban mobility. Governments can be major partners for industrial and service sector innovation in sustainable mobility, targeting the principles of energy efficiency and acoustic efficiency and defining low-carbon and acoustic emission areas, improving the quality of life in cities.   

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Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Public Law Consultant Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book Movimento antirruídos para cidades inteligentes, saudáveis e sustentáveis, edição autoral, Amazon, 2022.

[1]See: Sustainable Mobility of All: Global Mobility Report 2017, Tracking Sector Performance: www.sum4all.org.

[2] World Bank, Sustainable Mobility for all. Global Roadmap of Action. Toward Sustainable Mobility – Paper 6 – Green Mobility, 2019.

[3] For analysis of the theme, see: Keller, Evelyn Fox. Ecosystems, organisms and machines. Bioscience, December, 2005, vol. 55, n. 12.