Scenarios on Eco-efficient Transport Futures for Europe: Reflections on Methodology, Outcomes and Potential Impacts

Scenarios on Eco-efficient Transport Futures for Europe: Reflections on Methodology, Outcomes and Potential Impacts


Jens Schippl, Karlsruhe Institute Of Technology, Markus Edelmann, Institute Of Technology Assessment And System Analysis, Maike Puhe, Institute Of Technology Assessment And System Analysis


Based on work carried out carried out for the STOA-Panel of the European Parliament, the presentation will present and discuss methodological aspects as well as outcomes of scenarios on eco-efficient transport futures for Europe.


Jens Schippl; Markus Edelmann; Maike Puhe; Max Reichenbach
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Assessment and System Analysis

The transformation of complex socio-technical systems such as transport infrastructures is characterized by a high degree in uncertainty and incomplete knowledge. In the last decades, scenarios have become a prominent tool to support decision making in such complex transformation processes. Also for the transport sector a rich variety in scenarios has been produced. They differ under several aspects such as the assumptions made, the selected focus or the general methodology applied (explorative vs. normative). Further, scenarios can have different functions. At least in theory, the following two can be distinguished:
1. They can help to improve the understanding of possible cause-effect relations in a system. In these cases, it is mainly the output of the scenarios which is of interest and which gives orientation to decision makers.
2. Scenarios can be used to trigger or structure a debate on certain issues. In these cases, it is rather the process of working with the scenarios that gives support to policy making.

All the different scenario approaches surely have their specific pros and cons. Further, the variety in existing transport-related scenarios illustrates well that there are different pathways to achieving targets such as a reduction in CO2 emissions or reduced consumption of fossil fuels. But the variety in scenarios also illustrates that there are differing views on the feasibility and desirability of the various measures and pathways. For example, changes in the transport system are often triggered by technological progress, but there are different views on the future potential and impact of certain technologies, such as batteries, fuel cells or automation in car transport. Whether a measure or a pathway is considered to be likely or desirable quite often depends on the assumptions on which the calculation of a scenario or an impact assessment is based. There is a need to make the intention as well as the assumptions transparent for enabling the appraisal of scenarios.
Against this
background, it will be discussed in this paper whether considering the following three aspects can help to improve the usability of scenarios in policy making:
1. Scenarios should explicitly clarify their intended overall purpose (e.g. to give rough orientation for decision making, to give detailed guidance for the implementation of certain measures; to explore potential effects of a policy intervention; to structure a debate, to identify trade-offs, etc.);
2. Scenarios should make underlying assumptions as clear, transparent and understandable as possible;
3. For the assessment of scenarios, it is important to distinguish whether the elements of the scenarios are considered as being likely or desirable.

The paper will illustrate and discuss these three aspects in relation to a set of scenarios which were produced by the authors in context of a project conducted for the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament. The scenario development was accompanied by a stakeholder assessment of the desirability and feasibility of the scenarios and its elements. So, the main purpose of the scenario process was to getter a better understanding on the reasons for different assessments of potentially eco-efficient approaches. The scenarios consist of qualitative storylines that are combined with quantitative calculation (with the transport model ASTRA). The scenarios were based on the following assumptions and principles:
• All scenarios assume high – sometimes extremely high – innovation rates and a very high pace of technological change and diffusion of new technologies in society.
• Eco-efficient transport is understood as getting access to a certain activity/purpose (working, shopping, recreation, etc.) with a smaller ecological footprint.
• The three scenarios focus on three different basic strategies for achieving eco-efficiency; each of the three scenarios is “extreme” in relation to one of these strategies:
- Scenario 1: Making transport modes cleaner. Eco-efficiency of transport modes is pushed by extreme progress in technologies (e.g. energy supply, fuels and propulsions, ICT);
- Scenario 2: Changing the modal split. Eco-efficiency is pushed by a combination of push and pull measures that aim at inducing an extreme modal shift;
- Scenario 3: Reducing growth rates in transport demand.

The paper will present and discuss methodological aspects as well as outcomes of the scenarios. It will be shown how the three strategies contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. Results of a stakeholder assessment on the desirability and feasibility of key-elements of the scenarios will be presented. Further, the question what political impacts can or should be expected from such a scenario process will be addressed.


Association for European Transport