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Transportation in a Climate-Constrained World

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Transportation consumes two-thirds of the world’s petroleum and has become the largest contributor to global environmental change. Most of this increase in scale can be attributed to the strong desire for personal mobility that comes with economic growth. In their forthcoming book, Transportation in a Climate-Constrained World (MIT Press), Andreas Schafer and his MIT colleagues Professors John B. Heywood, Henry D. Jacoby, and Ian A. Waitz present the first integrated assessment of the factors affecting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from passenger transportation. They examine such topics as past and future travel demand; the influence of personal and business choices on passenger travel’s climate impact; technologies and alternative fuels that may become available to mitigate GHG emissions from passenger transport; and policies that would promote a more sustainable transportation system. And most important, when all of these options are taken together, they consider whether a sustainable transportation system is possible in the next thirty to fifty years, or whether we must accept a future where transportation remains a major contributor to climate change.

Andreas Schäfer is a lecturer in the department of architecture at the University of Cambridge, where he lectures predominantly in the field of energy and sustainability. He has an MSc in aero- and astronautical engineering and a PhD in energy economics, both from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He spent five years at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, followed by seven years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Andreas has been working for more than 10 years in the area of technology, human behavior, and the environment. His main areas of interest are modeling the demand for energy services, assessing characteristics of future low-greenhouse gas emission technologies, and simulating the optimum technology dynamics in a greenhouse gas constrained energy system. He has published widely on global travel demand modeling, transport system technology assessment, and the introduction of technology. He is also part of the Institute for Aviation and the Environment, concerned with the integrated modelling of the world’s aviation system (

This talk is part of the ELCF - Engineering for a Low Carbon Future (seminar series) series.

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