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Micro-stories and the lived experience of transport poverty: Lessons from Iceland for just mobility transitions

13 March 2024

Authors: Chukwuka G. Monyei , Paul Upham , Benjamin K. Sovacool

Journal: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews


Iceland features a high share of renewable energy supply but remains largely dependent on fossil fuels for transport and is relatively car dependent for mobility. In the context of a public transport system perceived by users and non-users as inadequate, we document individuals' corresponding micro-stories and show how these constrain their ‘functionings’ within a mobility capabilities perspective. We then show how this relates to a set of mobility justice principles, informing inferences for a more just and inclusive transition to decarbonised mobility. While acknowledging that the country has a pattern of urbanisation and challenging terrain that help to explain the limitations of its public transport system, we nonetheless argue that additional investment and policy measures will be required to address transport poverty. For data, we draw on analysis of Icelandic bus routes, focus groups with representative public, and interviews with vulnerable individuals. We find that transport decarbonisation policy needs to account for existing material poverty and be far more equitable if a just transition to low-carbon mobility is achieved. We also reveal how mobility justice issues interact with other dimensions of justice such as distributive, procedural, cosmopolitan, restorative, and recognition.

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Last modified:22 March 2024 1.29 p.m.

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