There is now a consensus in German politics, business, and society regarding the need for a consistent transition in mobility if the bindingly-agreed greenhouse gas reduction targets are to be met. Until its COVID-19-induced partial shutdown, mobility has been the only major source of emissions that has not been able to achieve significant CO2 reductions. The sustainable energy transition therefore depends on a successful mobility transition.

At the same time, the mobility practiced by a country’s inhabitants is part of their identity, quality of life, and the economically-demanded reality of everyday life and work. The persistence of the mobility practiced, the infrastructure built, and mobility tools are enormous.

However, the social science research on mobility has pointed out the great need for action and research, not only in the area of technological developments, but also with regard to necessary changes in behavior.

The large, real-world laboratory of COVID-19-induced massive changes in the framework conditions of mobility is now a great opportunity to empirically investigate people’s willingness to shift towards sustainable mobility. Our aim is to investigate the significance of COVID-19-related emergency situations as a test case and learning opportunity for a changed mobility practice.

The project “Mobility Skeptics” is intended to be a subproject of the project funded by Stiftung Mercator for the professional and institutional justification of social science mobility research. To this end, the relevant qualitative research on behavioral changes in the use of mobility tools in recent years will first be recorded and evaluated. At the core of the project are qualitative interviews with people who are skeptical of the mobility transition in the era of COVID-19. On the one hand, the reasons behind this scepticism and the different milieus of sceptics are explored. Furthermore, the project intends to utilize the analysis of these milieus in order to inform how future developments should proceed and how sceptics can be won over to the mobility transition. On the basis of the interview results, concrete recommendations will be derived in order to address the mobility transition sceptics in a way that is appropriate to their everyday lives and situations.

Duration: 11/2020 – 12/2021
Client: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH
Team: Prof. Dr. Hans-Liudger Dienel (Projektleitung), Elisabeth Dienel, Phoebe Fuhrmann, Milena Groß
Partner: Martin Schlecht (TU Berlin)

Picture: Tim Hüfner / Unsplash