Regularly called upon to consult on major political decisions related to Transportation, the Ponts et Chaussées Executive Council has been driven to undertake long-range planning out to 2050. Initiated during autumn 2004, this effort has involved, in addition to Council members, a broad array of experts.
The approach adopted has focused on 4 scenarios that entail differing economic contexts, demographics, cost of energy resources and worldwide commitment to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Based on these varying profiles, it was proposed to assess: the orders of magnitude for the resultant increase in passenger mobility and freight flows over the French territory, the potential for developing complementary modes to road transport, infrastructure needs beyond the projects already scheduled (as noted during the inter-Ministerial planning meeting held on December 18, 2003), as well as the outlook for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation uses.
The main lessons drawn from this work program point both to a likely slowdown in the increase in passenger mobility and freight flows (thereby limiting the demand for new road infrastructure to resolving a few bottlenecks) and, despite proposals targeting alternative transportation modes, to the critical need for technological advances for automobiles / trucks and fuels to reduce CO2 emissions. A major research effort will be required, along with a solid action plan built around standards and incentive-based financial instruments. To be coherent, this policy must be framed as a worldwide consensus, given that the purely-European alternative has proven insufficient, although Europe is to remain the driving force behind such a mission.
This document is not intended to describe all possible transport scenarios out to 2050, but instead has been aimed at inciting a strategic reflection and discussion on the future of transportation, with the desire to shape as of now a shared vision over the very long term with due recognition of the stakes involved.