According to a parliament decision on climate politics, the emissions of climate gasses in Sweden should in 2045 be a minimum of 85 percent lower than in 1990. The carbon emissions caused by the Swedish domestic transportation (excl. flights) shall in 2030 be 70 percent lower than in 2010. It is only 10 years until 2030. An equal transportation system plays a crucial role in achieving these goals since differences in behavior regarding transportation are significant. If men travelled the way women do, the emission and energy use from personal transportation would decrease by a fifth. By studying 8 municipalities, this project contributes with a better understanding of how and why equality and sustainability impact on practical decisions within transportation politics, as well as what is needed in order to reduce carbon emission, and at the same time make these changes in a fair and inclusive manner.
Our previous research shows that the problem is not the lack of strategies or policies. Instead, the problem concerns how policies are transferred into practical decisions and actions. Civil servants and politicians involved in traffic- and transportation planning processes need a greater understanding of why and how equality and sustainability are important and how they interact. Although there are no simple correlations between equality and sustainable decisions within transportation systems, men are by far overrepresented within municipal decision making on transportation, and masculine norms dominate. In previous research, we found a low share of women in municipal boards where transport planning and decisions are carried out. The presence of female and male bodies within decision making can, to a certain extent, be connected to masculine and feminine norms, as well as sustainability norms. These norms impact the work on sustainability (Hultman 2016).
The hypothesis of the project is that it is in the practice or in the “doing” when selections and decisions regarding concrete transportation solutions are being made, that norms on gender and sustainability come to the fore. Here power relations play out and get expressed as tensions and conflicts between different modes of transportation and solutions. An understanding of how questions regarding equality are closely connected to sustainable decisions within the sector has the potential to contribute to changing the norms controlling decision making within Swedish municipalities toward a more equal and sustainable transportation system.
The aim of the project is to explore how gendered- and sustainability norms are related to decision making on transportation, and to develop a process strategy helping municipalities to achieve sustainability and equality within the transportation sector.
The three working packages of the project
The project group is cross- and transdisciplinary, and divided into three working packages: Working package I focuses on qualitative analysis to examine processes of transportation politics in relation to sustainability and equality; Working package II deals with quantitative studies, focusing on the potential of energy efficiency (KWh and kg Co2 equivalents/capita) of sustainable/equal transportation solutions for different contexts, to better understand their potential for transformation; Working package III focuses on outreach, and communicates the project’s results to municipalities, other decision-makers, and the academic research field.
The goals of the project are to:
- better understand what decisions need to be made on the local level in order to realize the possible energy efficiency (-29%) of an equal sustainable transportation system;
- better understand how and why equality and sustainability impact on practical decisions within transportation politics
- and increase knowledge about the processes and practices impacting on how transportation solutions take form within boards focused on transportation issues in a sample of 8 municipalities.
Knowledge from this project connects to national environmental goals and contributes to decrease the environmental impacts, through a potential decrease in carbon emission via a more equal transportation system.