Episode 6: Transport with Ryan Allard

In this fascinating interview, we are joined by Drawdown senior fellow and senior data modeller Ryan Allard for a comprehensive examination of the transport sector.

Even though it contributes to 15 percent of anthropogenic emissions, surprisingly, transport is not included in Drawdown’s top 25 solutions, illustrating how tricky to decarbonise this sector is. As such, this interview is all about efficiency. Ryan emphasises the huge importance of load factors as ensuring there is a high-density of passengers across transport systems is the most effective way to reduce the environmental footprint of travel.

Naturally, we examine the potential of electric vehicles, a solution that has caught the public imagination and seems set to become commonplace. Ryan talks us through their benefits, whilst accounting for hidden environmental costs, such as production emissions and the electricity source that powers them. We also devote some time to the engine of the global economy, shipping. We look at what international policy could help decarbonise the sector as well as the potential gains and trade-offs from slow-shipping. We also touch on similar efficiency gains in aviation and what progress has been made towards finding an effective biofuel, which, in the words of Ryan, could be the industry’s saving grace.

We also explore the huge potential of mass transit, especially as the world continues to rapidly urbanise. Ryan outlines what makes mass transit a success and how both “carrots and sticks” must be deployed to prompt behaviour change and increase their use. We discuss how comfortable, reliable, convenient services can act as incentives whereas schemes can deter carbon-intensive transport, such as inner-city congestion charges. We also touch on other factors that could be influential, such as the price of oil and how the internet could reduce the need for travel, through telepresence. 

Ryan Allard is a transportation analyst with broad knowledge of transportation systems and their impact on climate. His specialties include passenger intermodality, intercity transport, competitive issues in transportation, and cooperation among transportation systems, on which he has published peer-reviewed research and presented at international conferences. In the past, Ryan worked as a consultant, aiding in the development of more effective government and state agencies. He has a PhD and MSc in Transportation Systems Analysis from the University of Lisbon, and a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Find out more about Drawdown’s transport solutions.

N.B. Due to technical issues the sound quality on this interview is slightly lower than normal and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.