Profile of Mr Bojan Vračarević University of Belgrade, Faculty of Geography

Bojan Vračarević

General research interests

Urban economics, Urban transport, Environmental economics, Sustainable development

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Sustainable Urban Development and Determinants of Urban Transport Energy Consumption: A Theoretical And Empirical Analysis

PhD Abstract

Although economic theory has for a long time focused exclusively on manufactured and human capital (since it was thought that natural capital was readily available), at a time of exponential growth of populations and rapid economic development, this role is being taken over by natural capital. The minimum (mandatory)
prerequisite for sustainable growth nowadays is the conservation of natural capital. In no other area is the sharp clash between the goals of sustainable and economic development more evident than in the sphere of the depletion of non-renewable energy
sources. The entire global expenditure of energy in the last four decades has more than doubled. Besides this, not only is global energy consumption growing from year to year, but, most alarmingly, rapid increases in energy consumption are predicted in the decades to come. Energy consumption in transport is experiencing the most growth and has almost trebled in the past forty years. Crude oil, as an energy source, is losing its primacy in all sectors except transport, which almost exclusively depends on this energy source. Despite some prognoses that technological progress and globalization can render meaningless the further development of cities, we are experiencing precisely the opposite
process, the spatial aspect of this phenomenon being the most important. The agglomeration economies are not diminishing, but, on the contrary, encouraging spatial concentration. It is expected that the rapid process of urbanization will by the mid-21st
century lead to two-thirds of the world’s population living in cities.
In recent decades, more and more attention is being paid to urban transport. Total global mobility has been steadily rising as a result of the increase in living standards and level of motorization.
The conducted theoretical analysis and literature review in this field show that there is a pronounced interdependence between the numerous determinants of energy consumption in urban transport.
The empirical research conducted in this doctoral thesis encompasses a wide range of socio-economic, spatial, transportation and infrastructure factors on a sample
of 27 cities worldwide. Using exploratory factor analysis and panel data analysis of 28 independent variables, four key determinants of energy consumption in urban transport have been established: 1) urban population density, 2) car passenger kilometres per
capita, 3) length of urban roads per capita, 4) total public transport vehicle-kilometres of service per capita. High elasticity, especially of urban population density and car passenger kilometres per capita, not only indicate the great potential of implementing appropriate measures and policies with regard to urban planning, transport policies and environmental policies (aimed at decreasing demand and altering the share of public transport and non-motorized urban transport in total mobility), but also suggest which measure should be applied. Based on the results gained by the econometric analysis of panel data (using fixed effects model), in this thesis we propose the following:
1. measures that reduce the overall need for urban transport (primarily measures aimed at the application of the compact city and transit-oriented development (TOD) concept that promote larger population densities and mixed land use);
2. measures that limit the use of private motorized vehicles (taxes for the purchase and use of cars, congestion charges, parking charges, etc.) and
3. measures that promote sustainable forms of urban transport – public transport, bicycles, walking (primarily investments in high-capacity railway systems and infrastructure for non-motorized transportation).
A coordinated application of these measures, and consequently their effectiveness, primarily depends on the level of integration of urban and transport planning in cities. The experiences of cities in the developed world could be of great benefit to cities of the developing world, since, unlike the “mature” metropolises of the developed world, these developing cities are in the initial phases of spatial-economic development and their urban form and traffic patterns have not yet been fully established, while the level of motorization is still relatively low.
It is evident that the cities of the developing world (which are experiencing rapid demographic and urbanization processes), such as Belgrade, have an invaluable opportunity to point their urban and transport development in a sustainable direction, thereby having a long-term effect on world energy consumption and CO2 emissions (as well as the emission of local air polluters, traffic congestion, traffic accidents, noise and urban land take). Therefore, the policies and measures suggested are of particular importance for these cities.