New Mobility, Better Choices . . . And Taking Climate Change Seriously

In a conversation about one of the critical issues and decision points being set out in my forthcoming collaborative book, “BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City” — namely the fundamental structural importance of the climate/transport link — I was told yesterday by a well-placed person in Malaysia that no one in Penang or indeed Malaysia (or for that matter  pretty much anywhere else on our gasping planet) takes climate change seriously.  At least sufficiently seriously to even consider changing their daily transport choices (which it just happens is what my book is all about.).

That being the case, it would seem to suggest that the core of my work over these last years – namely, trying to find creative, potentially operational links between these devastating climate-triggered issues and the potential of reorganizing our cities around the healthy principles of sustainable transport — is a bit of a waste of my and your  time. Well, anybody can make a mistake.

“Common sense” (whatever that is) might suggest that my  friend is right and that  I am wrong. And if so, why don’t I change if not my work and career, at least give up on my line of insistent argumentation and trying to link the two?  I should if I understand it correctly become a  “reasonable man”. As Bernard Shaw put it: “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world . . . “  That’s it, that’s what I need to do: adapt to the world and give up on trying  link the battle against climate change with what I believe to be the enormous healing potential of transitioning over to sustainable transport in our cities.

Hmm. Here is an interim response to that:

Let me test my hypothesis and take the temperature in a diverse and demanding context. Over the next two weeks I am presenting my understanding of the  driving climate/transport link to no less than six international expert forums in the coming two weeks in Taiwan. Let’s see what they have to say.

We will then perhaps see more clearly after the dust from Taipei settles on this.

Stay tuned.

# # #

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as a development economist, Francis Eric Knight-Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent non-profit advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at, @ericbritton. @worldstreets and

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