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English cars vs Dutch bikes: an
international comparison of the
energy costs of commuting
RGS-IBG
28th August 2013
Robin L...
Background
• Peak oil, obesity, climate change, recession
• Energy: 'master resource', affects all
Energy use transport: fundamentals
• It's "nature's money"
• Various ways of measuring it
• Direct (fuel) and indirect: fu...
Data and methods
• Dutch data taken from Statistics
Netherlands and English data from
Casweb: official data
• Method uses ...
England vs the Netherlands
Attribute England Netherlands Units
Population density 407 406 ppl/km2
GDP 50,000 46,000 $/capi...
National-level comparisons
Average energy costs per one way trip to work in English regions (2001) and
Dutch provinces (20...
Headline figures
• The average commute is more energy
intensive in NL
• By 10%: 34 MJ/trip in England vs 38
MJ/trip in the...
Explanation I - mode
Explanation II - Distance
• Average distance in UK: 14.8 km
• Netherlands average: 17.7 km
• NL distance: 27% further
Explanation III - Infrastructure
~2600 km of motorways in NL, ~3700 km EN
(Eurostat, 2013): around 150 km vs 70 km per
mil...
Data inconsistencies and caveats
• 2001 vs 2010 data
• NL data highly aggregated, percentages and
averages
• EN data provi...
Scales of
analysis
Regional scale
misses complexity
of pattern
NL data not
available on this:
no census
Same spatial
patte...
Distance changes over time (EN)
Shifted very little since 2001 (DfT, 2011).
Conclusions
• Higher energy use in Netherlands for
commuting is unexpected
• 'Good' transport policies do not
automaticall...
Key references
• Defra (2012). 2012 Guidelines to Defra / DECC’s GHG Conversion
Factors for Company Reporting: Methodology...
Input energy use data: "Something
we prepared earlier"
Direct and indirect
costs of different
transport modes.
Direct ener...
Mode shifts in short term (EN) (DfT 2011)
Habitual behaviour linked to housing, high intertia
to change (Understanding Soc...
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English cars vs Dutch bikes

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This was my presentation at RGS-IBG annual conference, 2013.

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English cars vs Dutch bikes

  1. 1. English cars vs Dutch bikes: an international comparison of the energy costs of commuting RGS-IBG 28th August 2013 Robin Lovelace
  2. 2. Background • Peak oil, obesity, climate change, recession • Energy: 'master resource', affects all
  3. 3. Energy use transport: fundamentals • It's "nature's money" • Various ways of measuring it • Direct (fuel) and indirect: fuel, vehicle and road construction (Lovelace, 2011) • Average per unit distance - refine after 1 estimate
  4. 4. Data and methods • Dutch data taken from Statistics Netherlands and English data from Casweb: official data • Method uses estimates of vehicle energy use per km (Fels, 1975) • All analysis + visualisation in R • E = distance * efficiency * number • 'Best estimates' (MacKay, 2009) • Result reproducible: RPubs documents + uploaded .zip folder • RMarkdown runs code 'live'
  5. 5. England vs the Netherlands Attribute England Netherlands Units Population density 407 406 ppl/km2 GDP 50,000 46,000 $/capita Income inequality 34 (UK) 31 Gini Index Wellbeing 0.875 (UK) 0.921 UN HDI Sources: UN Economic Commission for Europe, CIA Factbook, World Bank
  6. 6. National-level comparisons Average energy costs per one way trip to work in English regions (2001) and Dutch provinces (2010)
  7. 7. Headline figures • The average commute is more energy intensive in NL • By 10%: 34 MJ/trip in England vs 38 MJ/trip in the Netherlands • Southern English regions (except London) have higher populations and energy use • Populous and urbanised NL provinces: lower energy use
  8. 8. Explanation I - mode
  9. 9. Explanation II - Distance • Average distance in UK: 14.8 km • Netherlands average: 17.7 km • NL distance: 27% further
  10. 10. Explanation III - Infrastructure ~2600 km of motorways in NL, ~3700 km EN (Eurostat, 2013): around 150 km vs 70 km per million people: more than double! Credit: pricetags blog Credit: Michelin
  11. 11. Data inconsistencies and caveats • 2001 vs 2010 data • NL data highly aggregated, percentages and averages • EN data provides actual counts, high spatial resolution available, but distance not yet available in 2011 Census • Euclidean vs route distances are an issue • Assume same car fleet efficiencies • Best approximation (MacKay 2009), not 'final answer'
  12. 12. Scales of analysis Regional scale misses complexity of pattern NL data not available on this: no census Same spatial patterns across countries?
  13. 13. Distance changes over time (EN) Shifted very little since 2001 (DfT, 2011).
  14. 14. Conclusions • Higher energy use in Netherlands for commuting is unexpected • 'Good' transport policies do not automatically prevent 'bad' outcomes • Links with 'green bling' effect of renewables • Are bicycles a diversion? • Sustainable transport policy should be 'joined up'
  15. 15. Key references • Defra (2012). 2012 Guidelines to Defra / DECC’s GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting: Methodology Paper • DfT. (2011). Commuting and business travel factsheet tables. • Dropbox .zip folder with all code + data for reproducible results and feedback • Fels, M. F. (1975). Comparative energy costs of urban transportation systems. Transportation Research, 9(5), 297–308. • Lovelace, R. et al. (2011). Assessing the energy implications of replacing car trips with bicycle trips in Sheffield, UK. Energy Policy, 39(4) • MacKay, D. (2009) Sustainable energy without the hot air. UIT Press. (Entirely free online). • robinlovelace on RPubs: reproducible code and output for EN, NL and compared Contact me: rob00x-at-gmail.com, youtube.com/robinlovelace, robinlovelace.wordpress.com
  16. 16. Input energy use data: "Something we prepared earlier" Direct and indirect costs of different transport modes. Direct energy costs from Defra (2012). Indirect energy costs calculated from a variety of sources.
  17. 17. Mode shifts in short term (EN) (DfT 2011) Habitual behaviour linked to housing, high intertia to change (Understanding Society dataset)

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