Can we reduce car use and, if so, how? A review of available evidence
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Transport accounts for nearly a quarter of current energy-related carbon dioxide emissions with car travel constituting more than three quarters of all vehicle kilometres travelled. Interventions to change transport behaviour, and especially to reduce car use, could reduce CO2 emissions from road transport more quickly than technological measures. It is unclear, however, which interventions are effective in reducing car use and what the likely impact of these interventions would be on CO2 emissions. A two-stage systematic search was conducted focusing on reviews published since 2000 and primary intervention evaluations referenced therein. Sixty-nine reviews were considered and 47 primary evaluations found. These reported 77 intervention evaluations, including measures of car-use reduction. Evaluations of interventions varied widely in the methods they employed and the outcomes measures they reported. It was not possible to synthesise the findings using meta-analysis. Overall, the evidence base was found to be weak. Only 12 of the 77 evaluations were judged to be methodologically strong, and only half of these found that the intervention being evaluated reduced car use. A number of intervention approaches were identified as potentially effective but, given the small number of methodologically strong studies, it is difficult to draw robust conclusions from current evidence. More methodologically sound research is needed in this area.
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