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Achieving Transitions to Zero Carbon Emissions and Sustainable Urban Mobility

Discover how cities can transform their urban mobility systems to become more sustainable and reach zero carbon emissions.

1,668 enrolled on this course

A photo showing a street in Vitoria-Gasteiz before and after changes to infrastructure to improve urban mobility
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

Understand the steps to becoming sustainable city

Transport accounts for a large proportion of carbon emissions, so ensuring urban mobility systems are sustainable is key to helping cities to achieve zero-carbon goals.

On this four-week course, you’ll discover how cities can transition their mobility systems to become sustainable, innovative, and inclusive.

You will develop an understanding of the policy tools and methods that cities can use to achieve their vision to transition to a zero-carbon sustainable urban mobility city.

Learn to overcome the challenges cities face in achieving net zero carbon emissions

On the course, you will explore the major challenges facing cities in reaching net zero carbon mobility emissions.

You’ll learn to identify barriers to change and the enabling factors that can facilitate implementation processes. With this knowledge, you’ll have the skills to better address these challenges in your city.

Adopt a systems thinking approach to transport and urban systems

Based on practical examples, you will explore a range of urban environments from a systems thinking and cross-sectoral perspective.

You’ll learn from relevant case studies across the globe to identify the needs of a range of cities. This exploration will give you an improved understanding of evidence-based policy-making and decision-making processes.

Learn from leading experts across the world

Guided by a range of experts from universities to policy-makers and international organisations, you will learn how to challenge traditional transport policy-making processes and generate new ideas and approaches.

By the end of the course, you will have upskilled to better address the challenges faced in the transport and urban sectors and be a more effective advocate for achieving sustainable urban mobility and zero-carbon systems.


  • Week 1

    Learning from the past for a better future

    • Welcome to the course

      Find out who you will be learning from, what is covered, and what benefits you will gain from the four weeks of activities. We also invite you to tell us more about your interests and your expectations.

    • What is at stake?

      Here we summarise the scale of the challenges that cities face, particularly - although not only - around meeting carbon reduction targets, the urgency of the task and the need for long-term, sustained actions.

    • Changing policy priorities & mindsets

      Explore how urban policy priorities and mindsets have changed over time, particularly away from car-focused to liveable city goals: what triggered the changes, and what lessons can be learnt?

    • Case Studies - City Transitions

      Learn about historical urban transitions by travelling in time with five different cities around the world: why & how have these transitions been accomplished? What can we draw from these experiences for the future?

    • Review of Week 1

      This final Week 1 activity draws out some key findings and implications and gives a brief taster of what will be covered in the coming weeks.

  • Week 2

    Strategies to transition to a zero-carbon sustainable city

    • City visions & Strategic Planning

      Achieving (net) zero carbon & sustainable mobility outcomes need to be based on a long-term city vision translated into a clear pathway, and built on a broad range of ‘Avoid-Shift-Improve’ strategies that require systemic changes.

    • Enabling factors and barriers to change

      There is often a gap between policy aspirations and strategies, and policies that can be successfully implemented, on the ground. Here we discuss some of the enabling factors and barriers that affect cities’ abilities to change.

    • Processes and Tools to develop transition pathways

      Explore innovative governance strategies, including a seven-step process to help cities develop their own transition pathway & strategies, and timescales that can contribute to meeting local carbon reduction targets.

    • Collaborating with other sectors

      Since travel is largely a derived demand, it is essential to work with the sectors that generate most urban trips, in order to meet shared carbon reduction and sustainability targets, particularly through 'Avoid' strategies.

    • Stakeholder Engagement and Governance

      Developing an effective, long-term transition pathway depends on gaining broad-based stakeholder support and a commitment for each to play their part, plus governance arrangements that are fit for purpose.

    • Review of Week 2

      This section summarises the key take-aways from Week 2, with a focus on how to map out and execute a transition pathway to achieve carbon reduction targets, and provides a taster of what will be covered in Week 3.

  • Week 3

    Policy Planning & Implementing zero-carbon sustainable city

    • Planning processes for meeting Zero-Carbon and Sustainable Mobility Targets

      Having discussed long-term carbon reduction strategies, the focus here is on planning processes that are required to support the achievement of zero-carbon sustainable mobility targets.

    • Introduction to Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans

      Countries have their own processes for developing local plans, setting out short to medium-term policy measures and their implementation. Within the EU, this takes the form of a SUMP, which is discussed in this section.

    • Selecting policy measures

      Addressing major challenges requires a range of policy measures to deliver high-level ‘Avoid-Shift-Improve’ strategies, that are brought together in policy packages, increasing the effectiveness of the 'core measures'.

    • Implementation Planning

      Implementation of policies requires careful planning, ensuring funding, location, and timings of package elements are well coordinated, and, for larger or contentious measures, that successful pilot projects then lead to scale-up.

    • Addressing behavioural change

      Much of a city’s success in meeting carbon reduction and sustainability targets will depend on individual behaviour change, through modifying travel patterns and shifting trips to more sustainable modes. How is this achieved?

    • Review of Week 3

      This section summarises the key takeaways from Week 3, showing the links between developing a transition pathway in Week 2, and the various ways in which this can be operationalized, in Week 3; it also provides a taster to Week 4.

  • Week 4

    Delivering and Championing the Vision

    • Towards climate neutral cities

      Find out more about the institutional support your city could receive and the benefits of joining cities' networks. And travel to Finland to hear more about one of the most ambitious 'Climate Neutral Cities', Tampere.

    • Practicalities

      Achieving on-the-ground delivery is challenging: To what extent is it realistic to aim for zero emissions? Learn from practical experiences about ways to build political and public momentum, and avoid potential pitfalls.

    • Not just Carbon

      While this course focuses on carbon (net) zero targets, it is important that other policy objectives are addressed, including 'just transition'. We look at how COVID has affected policies, and at the wider urban policy landscape.

    • Monitoring & Evaluation

      Cities need to be aware of the effectiveness of their implemented measures in achieving intended carbon reduction targets, through comprehensive M&E – which then feeds back to update future transition pathway strategies.

    • Review of Week 4

      This provides a reflective overview of the four-week course, summarising the key takeaways to help cities deliver their carbon reduction and sustainability policies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Discuss and develop conceptual and practical understanding of urban mobility transitions and vision zero pathways, drawing on various case studies from cities around the world
  • Investigate and assess the development of long-term city visions and vision-led planning
  • Explore implementation planning and processes and identify enabling factors and barriers to change
  • Examine different planning approaches and tools to support the transition towards zero carbon cities
  • Engage with practical experiences from a range of urban environments to identify, reflect upon and decode problems and challenges for transport and urban systems, from a systems thinking and cross sectoral perspective

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone, with no prior knowledge or prerequisites required.

This course will be particularly useful if you are concerned about reducing transport carbon emissions and want to learn more about sustainable urban mobility and transitions. It will be especially relevant if you are a professional or practitioner in the field; or you are a student interested in the environment and transportation. It is designed to be of value to participants from around the world.

Who will you learn with?

Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Environmental & Transport Policy at the Centre for Transport Studies, part of the Engineering department at UCL

Peter is Professor of Transport and Sustainable Development, in the Centre for Transport Studies at UCL. He is a Member of the Independent Transport Commission, and the UK DfT Science Advisory Council

Officer in Sustainable Mobility at ICLEI Europe

Hello! I am a Sustainable Transport Planner and Adivsor at the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) and Women Mobilize Women (WMW) at GIZ.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

EIT Urban Mobility

EIT Urban Mobility is an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Since January 2019 we have been working to encourage positive changes in the way people move around cities in order to make them more liveable places. We aim to become the largest European initiative transforming urban mobility. Co-funding of up to € 400 million (2020-2026) from the EIT, a body of the European Union, will help make this happen.

Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI)

The Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) is implemented by GIZ and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).


ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability - is a global network of more than 2500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. ICLEI influences sustainability policy and drives local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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