Research Recap, August 27: Latin American Urbanization, US Carbon Emissions, ‘War on Motoring’

Lima, one of Latin America’s biggest cities. Photo by Paulo Cesar Vicente Da Luz.

Latin America Urbanization

United Nations report found that urbanization rates in Latin America will continue at pace until 2050, when 90 percent of Latin Americans will be urban dwellers, up from about 80 percent at present. Though this dense urbanization is found across South and Central America and in the Caribbean, only 43 percent of Latin Americans use pubic transportation, while 28 percent walk or bike as a means of transport. The report juxtaposes these usage and growth rates with the comparatively paltry economic expansion of Latin America, at 1.4 percent, compared to similarly urbanizing India, which is experiencing 4.7 percent economic growth, and China, at 8.4 percent economic growth, over the past 20 years.

U.S. Carbon Emissions

Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States in 2011 decreased 2.4 percent, or by 526 million metric tons below 2005 levels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration report, transportation—one of four major energy consumption sectors, including commercial, industrial and residential land use—is the only sector that did not experience improved efficiencies in carbon-based energy use, though carbon-related emissions fell 1.4 percent in transportation energy use. Higher fuel costs, along with more efficient gas run vehicles, were the lead contributors to reducing carbon emissions.

“War On Motoring”

A new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research found that “the war on motoring,” or the perceived “gouging” of taxes and rents on vehicle users, is not the case in the United Kingdom. Over the course of the last decade, total driving costs fell by 8 percent, while bus and coach fares rose by 24 percent overall. The report calls for an increase in user taxes for motorists, considering net costs for driving are lower, to pay for increased transport system capacity. The author fears the political popularity of increasing vehicle taxes may prevent increasing fees—a problem as per-unit fuel surcharges continue to garner less funding for transport as automobiles become more fuel efficient.

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