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Energy and Energy Resources -Transportation

The transportation industry is one of the busiest and most gigantic industries in the world. Like in any other industry, the resources are bound to be utilized, and, as such, waste products, both renewable and non-renewable, may be the final result. This fact reveals the issue of sustainability, which has been gaining a lot of ground, especially in the transportation industry. It serves to create a more livable society through a balanced integration of the social, economic, and environmental needs of the community. This essay is a report that serves to address a human environment/sustainability issue, and it further suggests a policy recommendation that will prove to be an apt solution to counter the barriers to sustainability.

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Introduction to the Issue

Sustainability is concerned with the industrial practices that make adequate sense in terms of business. Also, it heeds to the environmental needs of the community. In the transportation industry, it entails making recycled materials, using renewable energy, reducing hazardous wastes, and increasing fuel efficiency as well as developing energy-efficient propulsion systems. However, achieving sustainable transportation systems has proved to be difficult in the past. Specifically, as an effort to make transportation cleaner, putting electric vehicles on the roads to replace oil with cleaner forms of energy such as electricity and bioenergy has not been successful due to failure in balancing social, economic, and environmental needs.

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Why It is a Human Environment Issue

The approach to sustainability in the transportation industry attracts considerably significant attention in both human aspects as well as in the environmental ones. All these factors have their parts to play in the way of achieving sustainability based on economic, social, and environmental impacts. The human aspect is concerned with the preservation of this balance, prevention of the exhaustion of the resources, and maintenance of respect for the environment. On the other hand, the environmental aspect deals with greenhouse gasses, carbon footprints, and ecosystems. The interaction of these two aspects is what gives rise to the sustainability issue, which has proved to be so far difficult in terms of realization in the transportation industry.

The Human Environmental System the Topic Falls

Typically, sustainability dictates the ability to meet present needs without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Achieving sustainable development requires balance to be achieved amongst economic, social, and environmental aspects. In the transportation industry, the environmental aspect refers to the impact of resource usage and the way physical surrounding is conserved. The social aspect focuses on the need for maintaining healthy relationships, which are beneficial to the customers and employees as well as to the community as a whole. On the other hand, the economic aspect is concerned with efficiency and profitability. Each of these aspects interacts with each other in various ways that produce distinct overlapping facets. This fact is demonstrated by the diagram below. The point where three aspects interact in the diagram creates the development of sustainability.

Why this Issue is Important

The subject of sustainability is vital in the sense that people strive to achieve their own current needs in a manner still allowing for these needs to be met in the future. Most importantly, the conservation of the planet’s resources as well as the preservation of its environment is essential in satisfying the needs of humanity in the long term. In the transportation industry, it involves programs, policies, and resources that are employed to realize sustainable transportation systems. In this case, it implies replacing oil with cleaner forms of energy as a means of propulsion. These efforts are aimed at making transportation cleaner and more efficient concurrently. However, achieving this status ultimately necessitates economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainability being balanced.

What Is at Stake?

The planet’s ecosystem proves to be at much higher risk if sustainability is not achieved in the transportation industry. Humanity itself is also at risk together with all other living beings that share the environment. The use of oil as the main source of energy for propulsion systems has been responsible for damaging the planet’s ecosystem for years. This happens mainly because hazardous waste products are emitted by vehicles that use oil propulsion systems. Moreover, the overexploitation of natural resources that are transformed into fuel for oil engines coupled with economic growth that produces this demand also threatens the survival of future generations. The continuity of this trend recurrently putting a burden on the ecosystem threatens the survival of humanity on this planet. Sustainability development in the transportation industry, therefore, proves to be vital in minimizing this damage.

Who or What Would Benefit or Be Harmed

Efforts to achieve sustainability would result in some players in the transportation industry benefiting, while others incurring significant losses. Advances in improving the sustainability in transportation have roused effort in research on the development of cleaner forms of energy capable of running vehicle propulsions systems. The US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy as well as companies like TESLA have made milestones in their efforts to produce plug-in electric and other alternative fuel vehicles such as those that use bioenergy. These institutions will tend to gain from the pressure of improving transportation sustainability. On the other hand, petroleum companies together with automobile ones manufacturing oil engines stand to incur significant losses in the way of realizing sustainable transportation systems.

Why the Issues Are Contentious

The objectives of achieving sustainability are very diverse, and they require the policies and actions that have been developed for being coordinated and conducted effectively by the correct authority. Implementing these policies and actions also requires the reconciliation of the dynamic economy that currently exists in the world that has come to embrace diversity in all its aspects. It also requires uniformity in commitment; for instance, in replacing oil engines with electric engines as well as other cleaner forms of vehicle propulsion. It becomes difficult with the friction that results when social, environmental, and economic aspects of sustainability interact to strike a balance in particular.

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Different Opinions by Different Stakeholders

Researchers advocating for sustainability have argued that reducing the number of oil engines on the roads supports the creation of a favorable condition in the environment, society, and economy. This is done in a manner that does not compromise the welfare of future generations. On the other hand, critics have disagreed by stating that the concerns raised by sustainability undermine the ability of modern society to resolve problems. These are the issues that constrain the level of economic activity as well as social welfare in effect. They also suggest that sustainability is indefinite and only advocated by special groups of interest. Thus, its objectives are unrealistic and may prove to be harmful to the economy.

Roles of Politics, Power, and Economics in Finding the Solution

To achieve sustainability by replacing oil as a source of energy for vehicle propulsion systems, politics and power play significant roles in applying the solution. The state governments and civil societies are largely responsible for developing the policies and actions to be taken. This is true since the political authorities must work on reconciling the dynamics in the economy. Despite this fact, these authorities exhibit bureaucracy and reluctance in playing this role. The incentives meant to support new modes of transportation and production, most of which are tax-related, have not been rolled out. Economically, the fear of the burdens of cost and economic vulnerability that would follow this transition has crippled the adoption of sustainable transportation systems.

Section 4: How Ethics and Justice Are Tied to the Issue

Ethics and justice apply to the issue of sustainability when it comes to the implementation of new sustainable transportation systems. The policies to be implemented must be structured in a manner that minimizes resources usage and wastage. Also, the resources meant to improve sustainability must be evenly distributed to all members of society. In transportation, this would mean availing the opportunity of using clean energy vehicle propulsion systems in a way that eliminates any systematic variances between population groups. These are the groups that benefit from new systems and those being affected negatively. At the same time, this process can be realized while satisfying the transportation needs.

Ethics/Justice Aspects to Be Considered in Addressing the Issue

The principles of justice and equity such as principles of social justice and economic factors as well as equity must be addressed to deal with the transportation transition. As such, any policies of sustainability that are to be adopted should be followed by allocation of resources regardless of social class. This should take place after proper transport planning that reflects on all social levels and their capabilities. The economic principles dictate the equitable distribution of the planet’s natural and intellectual wealth for rational use. This step will ensure smooth and sustainable development through the successful integration of the environmental, social, and economic needs of the community.

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Policy Recommendation

To increase the level of sustainability in the transportation industry, the conversion of the normal conventional vehicles to hybrid electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles should be considered. The national and state governments should spare funds that will be used to cover fifty percent of the conversion cost. This move should be adopted on a large scale inclusive of developed states that possess this level of technology. Such states should be geographically situated amongst continents such as Asia, Europe, and North America. The efforts to introduce this type of technology in less developed countries would follow later.


The policy involves an ongoing action that should start in the following year because the technology for achieving such sustainability already exists. The span of one year before the implementation of the policy allows companies to spend adequate time for preparation. It also allows the state and national governments to introduce the policy and engage in activities meant to sensitize the human population about the importance of this policy and its objectives. Once the policy implementation is underway, the government should regularly check its progress at the state level. Statistical reports should also be gathered after every five years to gauge the advancements made in implementing new sustainable transportation systems.

Costs and Effort Involved in the Policy

Part of the costs covered by the government will be financial incentives that will prompt car owners to convert for propulsion their vehicles to other hybrid forms that use clean energy. These costs will depend on the vehicle’s all-electric range and the size of the battery. The government will also incur administrative costs in making sure that these financial incentives reach the right people. Moreover, the implementation of the policy will also require efforts from car owners in meeting the rest of the conversion cost and time to take their vehicles for transformation. Further, making the policy known to people and convincing to public will also require some actions of the government through advertisements, exhibitions, and conferences.

How the Policy Takes into Account the Policy and Justice Aspects

The policy offers an equitable financial incentive to every car owner who wants to convert the vehicle into a hybrid. The fact that this incentive serves for covering half of the conversion costs regardless of the type of vehicle and actual expenses demonstrates social just and equitable policy as well. The energy used to drive these new hybrid propulsion systems such as electrical and alternatively fuelled is easily accessible at low prices. This suggests that the resources needed to facilitate the adoption of a new sustainable transportation system have been made available. Therefore, social, economic, and environmental conservation needs to achieve a common ground where each aspect of sustainability has been realized in an ethical and just manner.

Outcomes of Adopting the Policy

Positive Outcomes

Implementation of this policy program will reduce the number of vehicles that use oil engines on the roads to a large extent. Also, the policy does not necessarily require a vehicle owner to purchase a new electric or hybrid vehicle. In light of this revelation, most vehicle owners will be willing to make the move of converting their vehicles to hybrid electric ones. Therefore, there will be less hazardous emissions on the roads due to the clean energy propulsion systems that vehicles will be used after conversion. This will mean less damage to the environment and the preservation of such natural resources as oil.


Putting together the funds for financing the incentives that are meant to cover half of the conversion costs may be difficult for governments. This is true given the fact that a large number of vehicle owners is present in a single state. Furthermore, a significant number of vehicle owners will also be reluctant to make major alterations to their vehicles. This may serve as a means of maintaining their status quo which is human nature even despite their understanding of the benefits of the vehicles that use cleaner forms of energy. Competitive activities from engine oil companies such as increasing fuel efficiency will cripple the implementation of the policy by influencing the vehicle owners’ decisions to convert their vehicles.

The Outcome, Its Beneficiaries, and Losers

The outcome is expected to last for a very long period with some people benefiting from the policy, while others incur significant losses. With a high number of vehicles owners converting their vehicles, the trend will influence those individuals that plan to purchase a vehicle. In all probability, they will go for fully electric hybrid cars instead of oil engine vehicles. The transportation sector such as the automobile and petroleum industries are likely to decline with the adoption of these policies. On the contrary, electric car companies such as Tesla, Miles, and Left Coast Electric appear to gain in the long term if these policies will be successfully implemented across continents.

Potential Risks

Anyway, such policy carries the potential risk of crippling the petroleum and automobile industries which have been relied on for centuries. The petroleum industry not only services the automobile sphere by providing fuel for oil engines but also engages in many other activities. These include the production of gasses and other chemicals that are useful in many other industries either as a finished product or as a raw material. Given that the automobile industry is the main profit generator for the petroleum industry, the implementation of these policies may cause economic imbalances, which may, in turn, have disastrous implications on the national economy in the long run.


The transportation industry is one of the most important industries in the world. The issue of sustainability has continued to gain ground in this industry-leading to the development of policies that strive for a balance between economic, social, and environmental aspects. These policies affect various stakeholders differently. This makes it difficult to find a solution to the issue. However, developing a solution that advocates for sustainable progress proves to be more important as it guarantees the survival of future generations on this planet. Despite this approach, some care should be taken to mitigate the potential risks that may result from implementing sustainable transportation systems.

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