Reducing transport emissions: lessons from a career

Margarita Parra and I discussed lessons from her 8 years directing William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant-making aimed at reducing transportation-related air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The interview was prompted by an article Margarita wrote for the Foundation’s website to reflect on and share lessons learned from her work there
The article was also picked up (and adapted slightly) by WRI’s the CityFix blog

Margarita is worth paying attention to on this issue given her long track record of working on it through several relevant organizations. Before Hewlett Foundation, her experience included ICLEI's Ecomobility programme. She is also a Member of the Board of Directors for the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT). 

Here is how you can digest my discussion with Margarita: 
  • The best way is to LISTEN to the 31 minute audio with the player above. 
  • Or subscribe to the audio podcast if you are a podcast listener (search for 'Reinventing Transport' in your podcast player app or click the symbol that looks like a wifi icon in the player above).
  • There is no long article this time. Just some very brief highlights below. So please do listen or read Margarita's original article that prompted our interview.  
  • The Youtube version is at the end of this post (scroll to the bottom).
  • My Patreon patrons will be able to download a full transcript. 

Some brief highlights from the conversation

  • Margarita described how the Hewlett Foundation's grant-making on transport emissions works. 
  • Why transportation needs to be an increasingly important part of emissions reduction efforts. 
  • The "two-part strategy" that Margarita applied to this issue at the Foundation: 1. decarbonize and 2. optimizing to get more mobility of people and goods with fewer vehicles. 
  • Debate over which should be primary. Why both are needed. Why she (and many) are attracted to 2. But how her analysis showed that 1. offers faster results right now, especially given technology advances. 
  • Some of her favorite grantees and projects. These includes projects by ITDP and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, such as the Rickshaw Rising Challenge
  • Rapid change and innovations, such as IT enabled phenomena such as ride-hailing and dockless bikesharing among others, and how they offer both promise and risks. 
  • The state of the transition to Electric Vehicles: accelerating but still largely policy-driven not yet a market-driven process.
  • Why co-benefits of carbon emission reductions are crucial, since they address people's immediate priorities. 


Please do share it on social media or with any of your friends or colleagues who might be interested. 

If you haven't already, subscribe (for free):
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  • subscribe to the audio podcast (search for 'Reinventing Transport' in your podcast player app or you can click the symbol that looks like a wifi signal strength icon in the player below).
You can help me continue this work by becoming a Patreon patron of my efforts.

Finally, here is the YOUTUBE version

I would really welcome your feedback. Leave a comment below!


  1. You have to include the RUF DualMode concept developed in Denmark


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