I’ve written a number of times about the perversity of private cars as a dominant transport system. The new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation makes the case more succinctly than I’ve done so far:
The European car is parked 92 percent of the time—often on valuable inner-city land. When the car is used, only 1.5 of its 5 seats are occupied. The deadweight ratio often reaches 12:1. Less than 20 percent of the total petroleum energy is translated into kinetic energy, and only 1/13 of that energy is used to transport people. As much as 50 percent of inner-city land is devoted to mobility (roads and parking spaces). But, even at rush hour, cars cover only 10 percent of the average European road. Yet, congestion cost approaches 2 percent of GDP in cities like Stuttgart and Paris.
The report refers to this as ‘structural waste’, and suggests there are similar dynamics at work in food, construction, and energy. That represents a huge economic loss, but it is waste that can be eliminated as we move towards a circular economy.