Transport is one of the crucial elements for economic development. It became clear however that transport has also a quite significant impact on the environment. The aim of this course is to analyse these environmental impacts. In a first part some basics of environmental science will be introduced: what are ecosystems, how do they work and the DPSIR approach (Driving force; Pressure; State; Impact; Response). This is a methodology for analysing environmental problems developed by the OECD.
The main part of the course will be divided into three topics.
In the first topic we will explore the environmental impact of the entire infrastructure needed for transportation. This will be focused around a case study of the Schelde estuary and covers the deepening and maintenance of the fairway, the development of harbour infrastructure and the hinterland connections (road, water and railway). Key issues as habitat loss and fragmentation will be discussed and the Schelde case will be put in an international context.
The second topic is the environmental impact of the transport itself. Here key issues are pollution (both air and water pollution) and its impact on human health and society. What is the link between transport and Climate Change, Ozone concentrations etc. The different transportation mode will be compared.
The third topic considers the environmental impact of what is being transported. Indeed, the goods transported can have a significant environmental impact both in the region of origin as at the destination. In recent years, for instance, it became clear that there is a substantial transport of virtual water (that is water used to produce goods) influencing world wide water balances. Similarly food transports add to large scale changes in the carbon balances. On the other hand transport is also responsible for the introduction of many species often leading to major ecological problems.
The final part of the course will deal with the environmental legislation and the potential of different measures to reduce the impact of transportation on the environment. Special attention will be given to the link (or lack of) between transport and environmental policies.
Prof. Dr. P. MEIRE