The sustain theme, led by Dr Jennifer Kent, explores the profound effects of transport on the health of people and the planet. Its central aim is to understand ways to reduce the harms currently associated with private car use.
We live in a car-dependent nation and this is problematic: for human health through injury, respiratory illness, declining rates of physical activity and the erosion of the social ties that allow us to flourish, environmentally through CO2 emissions and reliance on a finite resource, and economically through the costs of traffic congestion.
While some of these problems can be remedied with future technologies like electric vehicles, all can be mitigated with less use of the private car in the first place. Yet to encourage transitions away from private car dependence we need to both provide healthier and more sustainable options (such as public transport, walking, cycling and car-sharing) as well as understand the complexities of why we drive. It is developing this understanding that motivates the sustain research theme.