Mobility In A Flat World

Dr Hendrik Garz & Claudia Volk

Research Organisation

Report Date
June 1, 2006

Document summary

In the last 10 years or so we’ve entered a new stage in the globalisation process. The world has become ‘flat’ – predominantly driven by: (1) a leap in ICT and (2) the participation of China and Eastern Europe in world trade. Today almost any good can be manufactured almost anywhere in the world. The two major implications are: (1) the demand for transport of goods has been increasing dramatically and will continue to do so (2) due to the increasing individual wealth in emerging markets like China, the demand for individual mobility is rising sharply as well. This mega-trend certainly implies enormous economic opportunities for transportrelated sectors like the auto industry, airlines, and container shipping. ‘Business as usual’ scenarios for the future, however, show that the looming age of ‘unlimited mobility’ can be expected to have unacceptable, unsustainable environmental and social side-effects. But what would a sustainable mobility future actually look like? In which directions do policy makers have to steer the regulatory environment in which transportrelated sectors have to operate? And what should companies do to reduce the external costs of their products and activities?

This note has two parts. The first one describes current mobility trends, their causes, their linkages, their implications and possible future development paths. It looks at developed countries as well as at developing ones (focus on China). In the second part we take a closer look at specific issues related to the different transport modes. In doing this, we even go down to the individual company level in some areas (e.g. the cost implications of emission regulation changes for the car industry).

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