TSU Seminar Series

Seminars were delivered during Hilary Term (January - March) 2010 in the A J Herbertson Room, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford.

For more information on this seminar series, please contact

Week 1: 5pm, 20 January 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

California and Climate Change: Bellwether or bust?

Professor Deb Niemeier, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis.

In this talk, I will review the current state of global warming policy within California, and contextualize its environmental progressiveness on climate change within its political actuality. On the progressive side, California's efforts at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions are establishing a critical roadmap for others to follow. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (commonly known as AB 32) mandates that the California Air Resources Board set a greenhouse gas emissions cap for the year 2020 based on 1990 levels, implement and enforce regulations to meet the 2020 limit, and identify and design greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures. The medium-term 2020 target is coupled with a long-term reduction target of 80% of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In 2007, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 375, a bill that by nearly all accounts represents a dramatic shift in how we think about regional planning. The bill calls for the creation of sustainable regional growth plans that reduce sprawl and mandates that the Air Resources Board set regional greenhouse gas targets. Within 15 days of the gubernatorial signing, the Air Resources Board issued a statewide reduction target of 5 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 from land use, a number based largely on achieving compact development patterns that are expected to translate to a 4% reduction in VMT. Together, these legislative initiatives set up ambitious - some would even say audacious - goals. As the various political groups begin to gear up for the next gubernatorial election, and with a faltering economy, it remains to be seen what kind of progress California will actually be able to achieve.

Deb Niemeier is a Professor in the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis. She joined UC Davis in 1994 as an Assistant Professor after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Washington. Her research interests span transportation-air quality modeling, energy consumption and land use interactions, sustainability and the project development process for major infrastructure projects. She has served on the expert independent review teams to assess the cost increases associated with the San Francisco Bay Bridge and to review the cost methods used for the proposed 3rd locks of the Panama Canal. Working with an interdisciplinary research group of graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and faculty collaborators, she has published more than 110 journal articles and book chapters.

Week 2: 5pm, 27 January 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

Accessibility Appraisal of Integrated Land-Use / Transport Policies: More than just adding up travel time savings

Dr Karst Geurs, University of Twente.

In standard policy appraisal, possible accessibility benefits from land use policies, and land-use changes resulting from transport investments are often ignored. This may lead to serious biases. We examined alternative geographical accessibility measures that estimate benefits (in monetary terms) of changes in (generalised) transport costs and changes in destination utility, using an existing a Dutch national land-use / transport interaction model. This alternative approach includes accessibility benefits from changes in the distribution of activities, due to transport or land-use policies. A case study shows that the accessibility benefits from land-use policy strategies can be quite large compared to investment programmes for road and public transport infrastructure.

Karst Geurs is associate professor at the Centre for Transport Studies, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Twente, the Netherlands. He worked at the National Institute for Public Health and Environment from 1997, moved to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in 2005, and to the University of Twente in 2009. His work focuses on ex ante and ex post evaluations of land-use, transport and environmental policy in the Netherlands, and sustainable transport scenario development and evaluation. He wrote a PhD on accessibility appraisal of land-use and transport policy strategies. He is currently working on methodologies to improve the economic appraisal of integrated land-use and public transport investments in the Netherlands.

Week 3: 5pm, 3 February 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

European Transport Infrastructure Policy - A political or a technical exercise? Where we are now in the policy review

Jonathan Scheele, DG TREN, European Commission and EU Visiting Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford

Unlike the Common Transport Policy, which was foreseen in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the need for a coordinated approach to transport infrastructure development at European level was only recognised during the latter part of the 1980s and finally incorporated into the EU Treaty in 1993. After nearly two decades, a TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Network) policy that began as an attempt to improve links between national networks is now undergoing a major review. In this respect, the EU faces major policy challenges that were barely thought of in the late 80s and early 90s, in particular the impacts of EU enlargement to 27 Member States and of climate change.

The policy review was launched in October 2008, at a major conference of stakeholders, followed by the publication of a Green Paper on 4 February 2009. The public consultation yielded some 300 replies and the Commission is now preparing proposals, to be adopted in late 2010, for new planning guidelines / European level priorities as well as for EU funding mechanisms for the period 2014-2020.

The presentation will review progress so far and the likely outcomes of the ongoing policy review. In particular it will outline the options and a possible methodology for defining the planning priorities for a time horizon of 2030, drawing in particular on the work so far of the Expert Group on TEN-T Planning Methodology. The presentation will finally look at the extent to which the ongoing review will be able to get away from a largely politically-determined identification of priorities in favour of one which can be more responsive to real policy needs over the next two decades.

Jonathan Scheele gained an M.A. in Mechanical Sciences and Economics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, before becoming a Unilever Management Trainee in 1970 and later working for British Leyland at Longbridge. He joined the European Commission in Brussels in 1974.

He is currently the first EU Visiting Fellow at the European Studies Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford, and will hold this post until summer 2010, before returning to Brussels. He was appointed in June 2007 as Director of Transport Logistics, Trans-European Networks and Co-Modality in the Directorate General for Energy and Transport. He is also currently chairing the Expert Group on TEN-T Planning Methodology.

Jonathan served as Head of the European Commission Delegation in Romania from October 2001 to October 2006. From 1999 to 2001, he was Head of Division "Southeast Asia" and from 1993 to 1999, as Head of Division "International Transport Relations", he had responsibility for international questions on transport.

From 1988 to 1992 he was Head of the Services Section in the Directorate General for External Relations at the European Commission and Community Negotiator in the Uruguay Round on Trade in Services. Prior to that he held positions in the Commission dealing with textiles and later with relations with the Mediterranean countries, before moving to become First Secretary, later Counsellor, to the Commission's Permanent Delegation in Geneva, with responsibility for trade matters, especially GATT, and for Geneva international organisations generally.

Week 4: 5pm, 10 February 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

The Carrot or the Stick? The balance of rewards, punishment and cooperation to reduce transport energy demand

Dr Jillian Anable, University of Aberdeen.

Despite record investment in UK local and national transport systems since the late 1990s, the problems of climate change, congestion, obesity and equality are more severe now than at any other time. As carbon targets, the credit crunch and energy prices start to pinch, a cut-price 'business-as-usual' approach is both the most likely to be favoured by Government, and the least likely to be successful.

By examining the sources of carbon emissions in the UK transport system, this presentation draws conclusions on the balance of policy options that may be required to meet carbon reduction targets at the same time as other policy goals. It is argued that hard infrastructure solutions will take us in the wrong direction, soft behavioural shifts in the right direction but not far or fast enough, and therefore a radical shift in the way in which mobility is accommodated, planned and financed must be considered.

Week 5: 5pm, 17 February 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

No Seminar


Week 6: 5pm, 24 February 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

The Advent of the Degrowth Discourse: The case of sustainable mobility

Professor Karl Georg Høyer, Oslo University College.

This seminar will focus on the long history of the discourse on "environment and growth". An elaboration will be given of six quite distinct phases and understandings in this discourse. They are:

  1. 1960's: Problems of growth
  2. 1970's: Limits to growth
  3. 1970's: Stable-State
  4. 1980's: Sustainable growth and Ecological modernization
  5. 1990's: Beyond growth
  6. 2000's: Degrowth

The advent of the new term "Degrowth" will be particularly highlighted. All the way through Transport and Mobility will be used as cases to elaborate on how basic understandings have changed during the various phases. The term "Sustainable mobility" will be scrutinized in more depth, after its launching in the late 1980's and in relation to the current "Degrowth" term.

Karl Georg Høyer is Professor and Research Director in Technology, Design and Environment at Oslo University College. He is adjunct Professor at Western Norway Research Institute, where he formerly had positions as Head of Research and Managing Director. He has a background both in Technological Sciences and Sociology, in 1999 defending his PhD thesis in Social Sciences on the topic "Sustainable Mobility". In this field he has headed several research projects and extensively published articles in international journals as well as books. Høyer is a much used lecturer at national and international research conferences.

Week 7: 5pm, 3 March 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

Transport in a Carbon-Constrained World

Dr Ian Skinner, Transport and Environmental Policy Research Ltd.

Last December's Copenhagen Climate Change Conference brought the issue of climate change into the public consciousness to an extent possibly not seen before and reminded us of the challenges lying ahead if we are to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing on recent work on reducing transport's greenhouse gas emissions, this seminar looks at a variety of options that might be used to make such reductions. It will then review the policy measures that might be implemented at different administrative levels to stimulate the take up of these options. In doing so, challenges and unresolved issues will be highlighted, as will the potential role of the many actors involved, including each of us who travels every day.

Ian Skinner is an independent research consultant and a Director of Transport and Environmental Policy Research Limited. He has over 15 years of experience in transport and environmental policy research having worked in academia, as well as in an independent policy studies institute and a consultancy. Ian has worked extensively at the European level on a range of projects for the European Commission, including on reducing transport's greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other projects for national and local government departments and agencies. He has a PhD from the Centre for Transport Studies at UCL, in which he looked at the barriers to implementing sustainable transport policies at the local level, and is currently a guest lecturer at UCL.

Week 8: 5pm, 10 March 2010, A J Herbertson Room, SoGE

Transport Policy: What it can and can't do

Professor Bert van Wee, University of Delft.

There is a lot of debate among both scientists and policy makers about what transport policy can and can not do. In some cases, such as the impact of land use on travel behavior, it is almost a discussion between believers and non-believers. Based on 25 years of experience in policy related research this paper tries to answer the question in the title, focusing on the (potential) impact of public policy on the dominant reasons for policy intervention in surface transport: accessibility/congestion, the environment, and safety. In additionthe paper concludes that policy options should be evaluated much broader than only on the impacts on accessibility, the environment, and safety, and must also include criteria such as financial implications, and preferences of people with respect to the urban environment.

Bert van Wee is professor of Transport Policy at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, and is head of the Transport and Logistics section. His main research interests are in the areas of accessibility, the environment, land use, large infrastructure projects, project evaluations, policy analysis, and scenario development. Most of his research is multi-disciplinary, combining insights from economy, geography, planning, civil engineering, and psychology. He is often involved in research related to potential future large transport infrastructure projects in the Netherlands. He is Editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, and member of the editorial board of Transport Reviews and Transport Policy.