Smart Transport

Making sustainable cities the future

Huw Thomas

Author: Huw Thomas (pictured), Magway development director

Climate change has been a hot topic for the last few years, with figureheads such as Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough inspiring change. However, there is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the topic of sustainability to the forefront. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) introduced the idea of an environmental tipping point 20 years ago, and it is now estimated we are only 10 years away from crossing the threshold into irreversible environmental damage. 

How can sustainable cities help fix this?

If we carry on as we are, the environmental damage we have inflicted could be irreparable by 2027. The UK government has been pushing for change, with regulations such as London’s low and ultra-low emission zones, and government legislation aiming to cut emissions by 78% by 2035.

These changes are bringing light to the importance of the climate crisis and moving us in the right direction, but it isn’t enough. Sustainable cities could be the key to prevent us from reaching irreversible damage. 

The notion of smart cities is already developing. Improved connectivity, IoT devices, and smart buildings have dominated the smart cities conversation for several years, but with the environmental challenges we face clear in the results of the latest IPCC report, we need to look at evolving smart cities into sustainable cities. 

Sustainable cities focus on the wider notion that cities can develop a symbiotic relationship with their hinterland to become sustainable and self-reliant - almost like an industrial ecosystem. 

Where do we start with sustainability?

One place to start is with the material that makes up a city.

Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and additive manufacturing or 3D printing are starting to hit the spotlight, alongside smart energy grids, carbon neutral construction materials, and integrated, zero-carbon delivery systems. If we change the materials the city is made from, then our base is already sustainable, then we move to the inner workings of a city. 

According to the Department for Transport, road transport contributes to around a fifth of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions and is officially cited by Public Health England as one of the biggest environmental threats to health in the UK, with up to 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure. 

It’s time we find another, sustainable delivery system, as the retail industry is responsible for a colossal carbon footprint. Alongside consumer demands changing as awareness of sustainability rises, the Government is also passing legislation ensuring logistics companies adjust their sustainability goals to fuel greener transport systems. 

The Magway System

The Magway system could solve a multitude of problems stemming from urban retail deliveries. 

Here, we are developing an all-electric zero-emissions delivery system that can replace commercial road vehicles such as HGVs.

Powered by magnetic waves and travelling through dedicated pipe networks, Magway doesn’t rely on battery power and can, when connected to a renewable energy source, be carbon free.

By removing retail and delivery vehicles from the roads, Magway enables the delivery of goods at a high capacity, even up to the last mile, without releasing any emissions into the atmosphere. 

In short, smart cities are our way to progress towards sustainable cities. As the conversations at COP26 have shown us, we need to make a change before we hit the environmental tipping point where there will be no return.

The development of more sustainable cities must be prioritised to create healthier living environments for society, acting as a stepping stone so we can then progress to becoming absolutely carbon neutral.

Smart Transport National Conference 2023

The UK’s largest two-day conference for senior private and public sector transport leaders and policymakers to work together to transform the UK’s transport network and achieve net zero will take place on 21 & 22 November 2023, The Eastside Rooms, Birmingham.

The high-level conference will bring together senior transport leaders who help shape transport policy and deliver its infrastructure.

It aims to promote best in class initiatives from the private and public sector and bring people together through networking, knowledge transfer and discussion and is seen as UK's largest, trusted and most credible transport conference to facilitate public and private sector collaboration.

The agenda will deliver a speaker faculty of 80+ expert speakers, including senior transport politicians, from the UK and beyond. And we expect an audience of 300+ delegates to attend. 

Speakers come from authorities and organisations such as: The Department for Transport, England’s Economic Heartland, Birmingham City Council, Transport for West Midlands, Midlands Connect, TIER Mobility, CoMoUK, Lambeth Council, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Enterprise Holdings, FedEx, Worldline and Cornwall Council.

Find out more and book tickets

November 2022 conference video highlights

Book your one or two-day ticket now!

Comment as guest

Login  /  Register


No comments have been made yet.

Related content

Office Address
  • Smart Transport
    Media House
    Lynch Wood
    PE2 6EA
Join the community
  • Register to receive our digital content / products and service / information about our events.
  • Register now.
  • Conference


Welcome to Smart Transport

Welcome to the Smart Transport website, keeping you up-to-date with the latest news, insight and reports from policymakers and thought leaders.

The Smart Transport brand connects policy to solutions by bringing national government and local authority policymakers together with private sector organisations.

Contact Ernest Olaseinde for more information.

© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd
Media House, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA - Registered number 01176085 IPSO regulated logo


Smart Transport members

Smart Transport board members


Please note:
By submitting any material to us you are confirming that the material is your own original work or that you have permission from the copyright owner to use the material and to authorise Bauer Consumer Media to use it as described in this paragraph. You also promise that you have permission from anyone featured or
referred to in the submitted material to it being used by Bauer Consumer Media. If Bauer Consumer Media receives a claim from a copyright owner or a person
featured in any material you have sent us, we will inform that person that you have granted us permission to use the relevant material and you will be responsible for paying any amounts due to the copyright owner or featured person and/or for reimbursing Bauer Consumer Media for any losses it has suffered as a result.