The future of mobility: the rise of electric transportation

ISS Renault_EV car

Helene Carpentier, Senior Project Manager - Zero Waste, and Joanna Leyden, Waste Operations Manager, discuss the future of mobility and what countries and individuals can do to support the transition to change attitudes and methods of travel and mobility.

How ambitious can the future of mobility be?

Our ISS Sustainability teams has hosted a number of TED Circles events to bring people together virtually to watch TED Talks on a range of important sustainability issues. We then take the conversations further with an engaged audience.

Elon Musk's vision for sustainable travel

In our recent TED Circles session, the group watched an inspiring interview of Elon Musk - Tesla’s founder - discussing his view of the future of travel/mobility.

In his interview, Elon Musk shares his idea of building tunnels to reduce congestion in cities and increase speed of mobility. He covers everything from the cost and rate of making these tunnels, through to how cars will reach the tunnels.

What part can we play in the future of mobility?

Elon’s idea of the future seems distant, however it made us wonder what the future of mobility will look like which provided the starting point for our discussions.

We opened the conversation by asking colleagues what they think the future of mobility should look like - and the part ISS can play.

Electric Vehicles, climate change and the wider economy 

Electric vehicles (EV) haven’t been around for long, yet already countries like the UK plan to make it illegal to buy non-EV or non-hybrid vehicles. 
The focus seems to be on vehicles because of the wider impact it has on the economy; building cars creates employment which is good for the economy whilst providing tempting revenue streams for  investors. 

Access to EV seems to be mostly for richer economies or higher classes of lower economies and we agreed that more should be done to make access to green technologies more inclusive. 

ISS Head of Fleet, Duncan Webb, commented that the UK has not always been the first market in mind of the car industry due to the UK driving on the left rather than the right like most countries. Therefore, this might delay the UK transition to Electric Vehicles though Nissan's recent announcement that they will build Electric Vehicles at their Sunderland plant, may accelerate change in the UK.

Businesses making green transitionwithin their fleet

Fleet accounts for a big part of scope 1 and 2 (direct) emissions of large businesses. The transition to electric vehicles is therefore a key strategic move. It is not an easy move though. It requires a switch of infrastructure at people’s houses to allow them to charge their vehicles and access to renewable energy for zero carbon emissions. 

It was. however, recognised that mobility in cities and mobility in the countryside need to be addressed differently and we considered the rural and urban requirements.

Hipster man walking on London bridge and holding his fixed gear bike

City versus country

Everyone agreed that moving to EV in cities might not present the best solution and that focus on better public transport and cycling would be most appropriate. 

There has been research to explore the “15 minutes city” – according to a report by the BBC (reference 1). The concept looks at re-designing urban spaces to make everything accessible within a 15-minute walk or cycle. These projects raise questions: Do we need to improve mobility in cities or do we need to improve urban planning so we do not rely as much on transport?

What about the countryside? We agreed that infrastructure would be best to allow people who live outside cities to reach hubs where they could park their cars - thus accessing cities in a more environmentally friendly way.

In this case we thought the best way forward would be the provision of EVs for people who need vehicles; but there should be more incentives for people to use other modes of transportation where possible. 

AU case - digital tracking

What do we do at ISS?

Global events such as World Environment Day provide the ideal route for ISS to raise awareness for individuals and share best practice with stakeholders.

At ISS, we can reach many people and organisations. ISS worldwide employs over 300,000 people, operates in 30 countries with over 59,000 customers in the public and private sector. Using our knowledge to educate our people and our clients is a key action for ISS. By reviewing the way we approach mobility within our operations we have the opportunity to have an important and positive impact. 

For organisations, our passion is to support and steer our clients, suppliers and stakeholders in the drive to setting suitable Net-Zero Targets (reference 2) and aligning to science based methodology, like Science Based Targets Initiatives (reference 3). We recently announced our own Net-Zero commitments too (reference 4).