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Strategies for sustainable transport

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Complete with results
Project Acronym
C7 (NRP 41)
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Environmental/Emissions aspects


Background & Policy context

The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis which could help to solve Switzerland's traffic problems, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs. The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy.

Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:

  • Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects
  • Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects
  • Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments
  • Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites
  • Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts
  • Technologies: Potentials and Impacts
  • Materials
  • Synthesis Projects

The goal of this project is to present a coherent 'strategy for sustainable transport' with a view to showing how sustainable transport could be achieved in Switzerland by 2030/40.


The following questions are addressed:

  • How great is the need for action?
  • What shape could a concrete strategy for sustainable transport take?
  • What are the conceivable scenarios for a sustainable transport system?
  • For which scenarios can the greatest degree of acceptance be expected?
  • Which instruments and measures should be applied to achieve sustainable transport by 2030/40?
  • What social/political obstacles can be expected during implementation?
  • How does the proposed strategy relate to the present Swiss transport policy ?
  • How does the proposed strategy fit with developments at the international level?

This project has consequently prepared a strategy with short-term and long-term measures based, among other things, on scenarios developed by experts, and on visions discussed during a EAS Workshop, which included representatives from various interest groups.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss National Science Foundation SNF
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


Transport will not achieve sustainability by the year 2030 without additional measures relating to factors such as climate change and noise pollution. Special consideration must be given to the following aspects when implementing a strategy for sustainability:


• Since any sustainability policy runs the risk of being mistaken for an environmental policy under a fashionable new title, it is important to continually highlight the importance of socio-cultural and economic dimensions. At the same time, however, this should not detract from the results of the problem analysis. In Switzerland the greatest need for action is currently in the area of ecological sustainability criteria.

• A sustainable transport policy always means an overall transport policy.

• A sustainable transport policy is always related to the broader policy of general sustainability. Accordingly, the reciprocal effects of transport policy measures in other areas, i.e. 'secondary benefits' and trade-offs, must be incorporated in the as-sessment.

• A key element of the proposed strategy is the openness of the process. Participa-tion should not be misused as a mere vehicle for promoting acceptance of measures agreed to long ago by an exclusive group. Rather, the end result of social discourse must be accepted even if it does deliberately not take into account the criteria of sustainability.

• Naturally, a win-win strategy would be the first choice in this political area, too. However, it would undoubtedly be naive to believe that there will be no losers on the way to sustainable transport. Appropriate alternatives must therefore be de-vised in good time for this segment of the population.

• Sustainability entails a special degree of responsibility for the global dimension of our trading activities. For a comparatively affluent country like Switzerland this can and must imply a certain pioneering role in promoting sustainability, either on our own or preferably in association with like-minded partner nations.

• Phases of a heightened willingness on the part of society to changes in transport behaviour are difficult to predict. It is therefore all the more important when such 'political windows' open, to have the appropriate strategies available and ready for rapid implementation.

• Over the next few years the main task will be to tackle highly problematic areas such as leisure-related and air traffic.

Policy implications

- The following key measures – some of which form part of the Swiss pricing strategy – could constitute the core of a strategy for sustainable transport:

  • a CO2 tax, tempo-rary subsidies on renewable energy,
  • the equipment of diesel vehicles with particle fil-ters,
  • a tax on noise emissions,
  • equitable fiscal treatment of private and public transpor-tation, and
  • the enforcement of more restrictive prescriptions for economical land use by the Federal Government and cantons respectively.


- Key measures include some steps towards cost fairness (a tax on CO2 emissions, and possibly on noise pollution), particle filters for diesel engines, promotion of environmentally friendly technologies over limited periods of time, and more efficient regional planning.

- However, the authors also point out that so far no consensus has been reached for accurately defining some of the aims and measures (while others could already be introduced in the short-term). Therefore, a colour palette of innovative pilot projects should be launched and successful experiences should be published, thus increasing public discussion and the process of determining objectives.

- Besides the many factors in common, a comparison of the ideas presented here with the recently-published UVEK strategy also highlights several major differences.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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