Are electric cars “green” if they’re charged using electriciy from derived from fossil resources? On April 25th, University of Latvia in Riga arranged a discussion about trends and current initiatives for smart mobility.
In Latvia, emissions from new cars are higher as compared to the EU average and overall emissions are increasing as people are choosing private transportation over public alternatives.
During the seminar, University of Latvia researcher and leader of NGO „Zaļā brīvība/Green Freedom” Jānis Brizga described how this tells us that we shouldn’t forget the symbolic, socio-psychological significance of road transport! Policies that support ownership of hybrid cars are promoted as green while often focusing on benefits for the individual, such as saving money. In this, they can also stimulate materialism, affect attitudes and values that shape our lifestyles and social views in different directions. Aside from the environmental arguments for new mobility solutions themselves, we thus also need to be aware of how we shape infrastructure, supply systems and communications tools for more holistic solutions.
This, of course, requires knowledge about consumer behaviour, which is something that is being looked into in Riga. Mobility surveys have been carried out by the Urban Devopment Administration of the Riga City Counsil, for example. Through this, transportation habits of Riga citizens have been mapped to support a sustainable mobility action programme for the city’s transportation system. Much is also happening to spur innovation, and both large companies as well as the government are showing interest in new solutions and to them being both tested and developed in Lativa.
One related initiative in Latvia worth mentioning is a project called ‘Smart City Playground’, initiated by the Latvian Ministry of Economics. The project will establish innovation platforms and opportunities for pilot testing innovative solutions starting in 2020. Another example of international character mentioned during the seminar was the 5G Ecosystem Forum, which is a platform for the development for a sustainable 5G ecosystem in the Baltic Sea region. The forum is organized mainly by the Electric Communication Office of Latvia with significant support from several other Latvian organizations. Smart mobility is one of four areas that is identified as have the best potential use of this initiative.
The seminar definitely gave a wide range of perspectives of how Latvia is developing and that Riga will be an interesting arena for hosting the SmartUp Accelerator bootcamp for smart mobility solutions in September!