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Sessions in: Mobility and Logistics: A Socio-Technical System on the Way to Sustainability

E.1 Transforming organisational mobility towards more sustainability

Kay Cepera1, Marlon Philipp1, Ariane Wenger2
1: TU Dortmund, Germany; 2: ETH Zürich, Switzerland

The mobility sector is one of the sectors with the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. In Germany, for example, the share of mobility-related emissions in total emissions has increased from about 13% in 1990 to 19.4% in 2021 (Umweltbundesamt 2023). Thus, this sector plays a key role in the achievement of substantial emission reductions and global climate goals.

Organisations such as universities play a vital role in mobility, as their members commute daily and undertake various types of business trips. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of universities in the Ruhr area travelled about 30% of their distances by car (Weyer 2022). This is a significantly lower value than is found in the German population in total (57%) (Infas et al. 2019). Additionaly, many researchers belong to a minority of the world’s population that flies very frequently (Poggioli & Hoffman 2022). This shows that members of certain organisations differ from the average population in their mobility behaviour. Furthermore, air travel – which is one of the most carbon intensive individual behaviour – often makes up more than half of a university’s greenhouse gas emissions (Ahonen et al. 2021; Wynes & Donner 2018). Consequently, identifying starting points for a transformation towards more sustainable mobility requires a focus on organisational mobility.

As an external shock in Geels’ sense (Geels 2010), the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for changes in organisational mobility. This was most apparent in travel avoidance through home office and virtual communication. Currently, these changes are beginning to erode as we observe a recovery in commuting and business trips. Nevertheless, it is clear that academic staff still have a desire for change, not only in terms of working from home, but also in their choice of transportation mode. Particularly noteworthy in this context is the desire for alternative driving technologies, as well as improved usability of bicycles (Weyer 2022). There is also a growing movement within academia to reduce air travel, thereby helping to achieve the emission goals several universities have adopted.

We invite submissions that analyse organisational mobility, with a particular focus on potential changes towards more sustainable mobility practices, both in academia and in other sectors. Submissions may examine either commuting or business trips in various organisations, particularly universities and other research institutions. Contributions could address questions such as: What are factors influencing the choice of transportation mode in organisational mobility? What changes in organisational mobility are already taking place, and which ones can be expected in the near future? What institutional and individual behavioural strategies are needed to achieve more sustainability? What are potential co-benefits and challenges arising from these changes? What are the institutional barriers to more sustainable organisational mobility? How can they be overcome?

This session will consist of brief 10-minute presentations, which will each be accompanied by a discussant who will provide a 90-second input to stimulate discussion. Contributors to this session are encouraged to submit their presentation in advance of the conference and to discuss another contributor’s presentation as a discussant.

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E.2 Analysing Multi-System Interactions in the Transition to Sustainable Mobility system

Soma Rahmani
IAS-STS, Graz University of Technology, Austria

In a world that is increasingly confronted with a multitude of environmental challenges, it is imperative to recognize the significant role played by the mobility sector in aggravating climate change. In response to this critical need, we propose a research session that will center its attention on the sustainability of mobility systems. A transition is defined as a socio-technical reconfiguration within a sector, where established technologies are either replaced by or integrated with emerging niche technologies (Geels, 2002; Geels and Schot, 2007).While the earlier studies emphasized transitions as a phenomenon confined to a single sector, with limited attention to connections to upstream sectors, it is now recognized that entities affected by transitions are often situated in upstream sectors (Andersen et al, 2019). Recognizing this, there is a pressing necessity for the investigation of transition more systematically which also has been studied by scholars in recent transition studies (Andersen et al, 2019; 2013; Ohlendorf et al, 2023; Rosenbloom, 2020; Markard & Rosenbloom, 2023; Andersen & Geels, 2023; Markard & Rosenbloom, 2022). We propose that giving greater attention to the role of inter-sectoral interactions in transitions towards sustainability in different sectors represents a favorable course of action.

In this session, our primary focus is on the crucial aspect that significantly contributes to advancing our shared understanding and promoting the establishment of sustainable mobility: Multi-System Interactions. We recognize that the dynamic interplay among socio-technical systems and their elements (actors, technologies, and institutions) can wield substantial influence on associated transformations. This influence may either expedite the pace of transition or impede progress through conflicting effects (for example, obstacles or limitations in the creation of additional capacity within the electricity distribution network, impeding the growth of renewable and the development of low-carbon electrification pathways) (Andersen & Geels, 2023).

As a result, our session aims to explore these interactions in depth, particularly between electricity and mobility systems as we strive to progress towards a sustainable mobility transition. Our goal is to identify the defining characteristics and features of these mechanisms that govern interactions between socio-technical systems. Gaining insight into the consequences of these interactions for the systems and their transitions is crucial for understanding how they influence socio-technical systems and contribute to the ongoing transformations in mobility systems across various nations worldwide. The primary and overarching objective of this research session is to gain a profound understanding of the interactions between and beyond socio-technical systems that underpin the transition toward sustainable mobility. By immersing ourselves in this subject matter, we aspire to explore a wealth of international insights, share the best practices that have emerged, and, most importantly, furnish actionable strategies aimed at accelerating, broadening, and deepening the transition within the mobility system. This research session is poised to serve as a pivotal platform for fostering constructive dialogue among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. It will provide a space for them to engage in robust discussions. It would be preferred to include presentations followed by a panel discussion, as it enriches the discourse and promotes collaborative solutions.

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