We firmly believe in the power of community and when it comes to mobility innovation, it’s essential that we take a look at the systems our international counterparts are implementing. We can learn so much from their success and failures. The challenges they face and what solutions they are bringing the table. Which is why we launched our latest international transportation series; ‘Global Mobility.’
In each episode of ‘Global Mobility’ we will be working alongside our intercontinental partners who will be speaking with local industry experts to give you an up-to-date look at what’s happening on the ground in each country. This month, we are back in Brazil with our partner Humberto Maciel, Founder of OPTAI. In episode three, the panel of experts discuss how to develop a truly intelligent mobility system within different cities. The impact micromobility and electric vehicles have on population health and if decarbonizing shared mobility and creating completely sustainable, zero emission mobility is truly possible.
Watch the full webinar below or keep reading for a breakdown of the conversation in English. Don’t forget you can turn on auto-translated captions in this video. Simply hit the gear icon ⚙︎ then subtitles then auto-translate.
Watch episode one and two here.
Global Mobility – Brazil Ep. 3: Decarbonizing Shared Mobility
Founding Partner of OPTAI | Parter of movmi in Brazil
Architect and Urban Planner from UNESP, specialist in Policy and Urban Planning from IPPUR-UFRJ and with a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the same institution, where she developed research focusing on urban mobility and social justice.
Creator and founder of Health and Sustainability Institute. Consultant and Researcher in the field of Health and Sustainability. Director, Social Responsibility, São Paulo Medical Association (APM).
Co-author of the book ‘Urban Mobility: Concept and Planning in the Brazillian Environment.’ Works at the Ministry of Regional Development in Urban Mobility.
Decarbonizing Shared Mobility
Dr. Evangelina Vormittag
I am the Founder of the Health and Sustainability Institute, which is a non-governmental organization, whose purpose is to defend health in relation to social-environmental issues, especially air pollution and climate change. Air pollution and climate change remain two of the biggest challenges faced by the World Health Organization and the United Nations due to its affect of non-communicable diseases, such as chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
I am an Urban Architect with a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. I am currently collaborating on Mobilete Brasil portal, conducting campaigns and studies and I want to talk about our vision today as a civil society organization that tries to fight together with our partners to create sustainable urban mobility for the public. When discussing the topic of decarbonizing shared mobility, I think it’s important to understand which models we want to sustain over time and what is relevant and possible for right now, structurally, as well as the future.
I have been working in the area of Urban Mobility for 13 years and today I work in the Ministry of Regional Development. In my book, I have outlined a simple methodology for smaller municipalities to act on this planning issue. Hopefully in this debate, we can elaborate on what Marília mentioned, that to create sustainable mobility it isn’t just about swapping out diesel powered cars for electric vehicles and that we shouldn’t be stuck within this conditioning. We should be focusing on sustainable development throughout our entire urban mobility planning.
According to the World Health Organization, over 90% of the world does not have access to clean air. What is transportations impact?
Dr. Evangelina Vormittag
Across the world and in Brazil, mobility is the number one source of pollutant emissions, so it has great impact. In Brazil, we also have to consider the fires in the North Central-West region as large contributors as well. We also have industrial cities that product pollutants as well, but transport, even in these cities, in still the number one. We did a survey in six metropolitan regions, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba Vitória in Espírito Santo and Recife, and these areas represent 25% of the Brazilian population. Between 2018 to 2025 we estimated that we would have 130 thousand deaths due to transportation emissions. In Brazil, we have 51 thousand deaths per year due to air pollution and according to Opa, this number is more than the number of traffic accidents we have.
These deaths and illnesses earned a 52 billion loss in productivity and 127 million in hospitalization fees. If we took even 14 billion of this money, to change the transportation systems we have, imagine what we could do? By removing diesel vehicles and introducing cleaner fuels in public transportation and encouraging active transportation like cycling, it would be an investment both health-wise and economically for the cities.
Do you think as a society, we are prepared to implement more sustainable solutions to decarbonize shared mobility?
It’s difficult to answer. I can’t see a society wide demand for multimodality or new forms of transport, it hasn’t quite taken shape yet and I think this is due to the history of city organizations and the culture of some cities as well, where owning a private vehicle is still considered to be the best way to move around due to a limited number of transportation options. I think there is still resistance from society, especially within the middle class who have more autonomy in the purchasing of vehicles.
When we take a look at the urban space within cities, there is a great imbalance with dedication to motorized vehicles and yet there are many alternatives – so we have a lot of work to do to make these spaces more democratic.
The technological advancements in transportation, although great, may not be so relevant here in Brazil on a fundamental cost level. We saw in 2013 the micromobility trend take shape in more developed countries but we still have many, many steps to take before we reach that point. We need to focus on the modes we have an ensure more of the population has better access before we start implementing new and experimental transportation modes.
In your opinion, how should sustainable urban development be guided in the environment that we are currently living in? How should sustainable solutions be prioritized within urban and regional planning?
Urban mobility is an issue that depends on many factors. It’s not just public transport, car transport and traffic. Urban mobility and planning is the integration of many different modes, including active transportation. Urban policy is also fundamental for the implementation of urban planning.
In 2013 or 2014, we did work in the Ministry on a sectoral plan for climate change, which allowed us to create some measures in which to reduce emissions and we created it based on modal change. By taking people out of their private cars and giving them a better opportunity to use public transport. We suggested creating a bus corridor on the roads, effectively changing infrastructure to make public transport more appealing to residents.
Sometimes the resistance comes from the municipalities too. If there is a demand for resurfacing the road and for resurfacing the sidewalk or creating a bike lane, the road usually takes priority, which shouldn’t be the case and this is a struggle we are constantly having. Municipalities don’t understand, that although you have more drivers, if you create the infrastructure people will end up using it.
Facing the post-pandemic period and its consequences to socio-economic and environmental issues, do we require urgency in changing our current mobility development plans?
Dr. Evangelina Vormittag
Without a doubt. I think there is a great urgency needed in the development of mobility in the country. It not only affects the health of the population but also the environment. We have laws, more like resolutions and some laws, but what happens is that development is based more on the resolutions. An example is the of city of São Paulo. We have national, state and municipal policies on climate change that already predicted the replacement of clean fuels but were not fulfilled in São Paulo. Article 50 of the law, had the goal of replacing São Paulo’s fleet of buses with a clean energy fleet by 2018 – which did not happen. In fact, it hasn’t started yet.
Brazil is way behind on achieving their climate goals in contrast to our North American and in particular our European counterparts, who are in the middle of completely banning diesel from all transportation at the moment. Brazil is facing a problem with the production chain of these companies and of these automakers, we also face problems with our financing insurance companies and these are issues we must address if we want to move forward.
Do you know if there is a mapping of the sustainable initiatives, from the impact of urban mobility, in the big cities of Brazil?
I don’t think there is one platform that centralizes the mapping of big sustainable enterprises in these big cities. But I know of several various initiatives that deal with with the issue of sustainable development in specific areas.
The Crime Institute and Society has the possibility for mapping out some of these initiatives because it is an institute that promotes initiatives in this direction such as climate mitigation of, and in the area of mobility. You can find various initiatives that promote mobility on foot in numerous cities. Brazilian companies also have a bicycle observatory which is driven by the union of cyclists from Brazil, and also promotes mobility by bicycle. There is also a search of Qual, which is an international organization but also operates in Brazil and has been trying to evaluate and improve performance parameters, public transport, cycling and I also believe they deal with fuels. IDTP’s mobility platform, which deals with the question of modality, looks at public transport and is a multinational data platform.
We have very few cities that meet all the requirements for our sustainable mobility plans. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges cities face?
I think the first thing is that there is flaw in the Federal government’s planning. In 2012 the government passed a law that gave cities three years to implement the mobility plan. This period was then extended for three more years and then extended again. We are now into the third extension and there have been no punishments for the cities, except municipalities are not receiving any federal public resources.
We also have a lack of a culture here in Brazil for proper planning. Sometimes we will create lots of new infrastructure, but won’t have a project or pilot to launch with it, or we will have a pilot but not the correct infrastructure. However, it is a complex subject for municipalities, that requires a lot of components to be thought of all at one. It is possible to have the local teams on the ground creating and implement successful mobility plans without hiring an expert to come in for a consultation.
Another problem we faced is that cities with no public transport don’t necessarily think that they can implement successful mobility planning, because the two are linked in their minds. On the flip side, bigger cities feel that they don’t need to implement a new mobility plan, because they already have one in place. A big problem is that cities think they need to rely on Federal funds to make big changes, but sometimes it is simple and small changes that make the biggest difference, for example, instead of building a new bike corridor, painting a bike lane of the road can be just as effective.
Check out episode two of our Global Mobility: Brazil webinar series here.