Influences on Transport Policy Makers and Their Attitudes Towards Peak Oil
Thesis DisciplineTransportation Engieering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering in Transportation
Transport plays a vital role in society, and energy for transport relies on fossil fuels. However, the future of the transport system is uncertain due to a concept relating to the diminishing supply of fossil fuels, termed ‘peak oil’. Transport policy makers have an important role to play in planning for a possible reduction in the availability of fossil fuels, however it remains unclear how they perceive the issue, exactly who or what influences their perception, and even if they are prepared (or not) to put in place measures that could minimise the potential impacts. It is vital that we understand all the factors and the actors involved in transport policy making, in order to understand why this issue is not currently widely accepted as part of mainstream transport policy. A conceptual model and theoretical framework have been developed to outline a method for gaining a better understanding of the characteristics of, and influences on, the transport policy makers at a local level, and how they view the peak oil problem. In order to test the theoretical framework, a series of case studies were conducted in three cities of varying sizes in New Zealand. The case studies involved interviews and surveys with transport policy makers. The results of the case study established that many technical staff have major concerns about peak oil but their concerns are not translated into policy because the majority of elected officials, who give the final approval on policy, believe that alternative fuels and new technologies will mitigate any peak oil impacts. This view is reinforced by a lack of scientific evidence to the contrary, and a lack of political and financial support from Central government to plan for peak oil. A change in attitude towards peak oil by Central government is a pre-requisite to introducing planning for peak oil at the local level in New Zealand.