The (Still) Challenges of Sustainable Mobility


When talking about sustainability, it’s inevitable thinking about transport sector and mobility. The transport sector is one of the most impacted by recent technological innovations aimed at introducing forms of mobility with less environmental impact.

Transport is responsible for nearly 30 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU, a significant source of air pollution, with matter release (such as nitrogen dioxide) harmful not only to the environment and global warming but also to human health, especially in urban areas.

According to European Environment Agency, motorised road transport (cars, buses, lorries and motorbikes) is responsible for 72% of global greenhouse gas emissions from transport sector. The remainder is associated with maritime and air transport. Rail transport and soft modes are the most “environmentally friendly” mobility solutions. Road traffic is also a source of noise pollution, an environmental health problem that affects more than 100 million people worldwide.

The growing global need for mobility and the use of transport thus brings with it the urgent need to find solutions capable of ensuring sustainable mobility for all: less polluting, safer and more efficient.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) explains the concept of sustainable mobility as the ability to respond to society’s need to move freely, access, communicate, transact and establish relationships, without sacrificing other human and ecological values in the present and future. This requires the integration of a sustainable transport system that meets society’s mobility needs safely, minimising the impact on human health and the environment, and contributing to balanced economic and territorial development.


However, we still face many challenges in this transition to more sustainable mobility:

  • Designing more efficient, fair, safe and secure public transport systems, integrated with mobility services (Mobility As a Service).
  • Build more sustainable infrastructure – physical and digital – in quantity, to support innovative mobility solutions in both public and private sectors.
  • Invest in the process of electrifying mobility with renewable energies, because it’s the only way to ensure a truly sustainable solution.
  • Develop communication and awareness actions to change mobility habits, patterns and consumption and combat resistance to change: people are used to existing transport systems and are resistant to adopting new technologies or changing mobility habits.
  • Remove regulatory barriers to full adoption of electric vehicles, car sharing or bicycles usage.
  • Improving the integration of mobility modes.
  • Improving traffic management in cities, considering not only traditional problems but also the integration of autonomous vehicles and other innovative technologies.
  • Improving user safety in more sustainable soft modes. Take recent ban on scooters in the city of Paris.


Several countries have already committed to dates for banning the sale of fossil fuel cars, including Norway in 2025, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands from 2030 and France by 2050. Although Germany hasn’t set a specific date for banning fossil fuel cars, it is promoting the transition to electric vehicles through incentives to buy them.

Overcoming these challenges requires the commitment of governments, companies, communities and individuals to promote public policies, investments in infrastructure, research and development of technologies and awareness-raising actions that encourage the transition to more sustainable transport systems. In Portugal, much of PRR and recently launched Portugal 2030 support is being piped towards sustainable mobility, in view of country’s commitments to United Nations Paris Agreement and EU Green Deal.


Cristina Ferreira, Brighten Strategy & Operations Managing Partner

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