The ‘oil vulnerability’ of commuter patterns: a case study from Yorkshire and the Humber, UK

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in



Robin Lovelace and Ian Philips

Publication date


Motorised transport infrastructure and increasingly specialised labour
markets have resulted in energy intensive commuter patterns in many
parts of the world. This is cause for concern due to the possibility of
oil price shocks and the need to restrict the combustion of fossil fuels
to minimise the chances of runaway climate change. The paper
investigates methods to identify the spatial distribution and
socio-demographic profiles of those who are vulnerable to high oil
prices. It does this by use of four metrics of oil vulnerability which
were developed using a spatial microsimulation model and applied to the
case study region of Yorkshire and the Humber, UK. The metrics capture
different aspects of vulnerability and highlight the importance of
translating conceptual definitions into practical metrics. The
geographically aggregated results coincide with the literature: rural
areas are associated with the highest levels of vulnerability. The
individual level results indicate that vulnerability can be prevalent
even in seemingly resilient areas. Ultimately, we conclude that the
social and spatial distribution of oil vulnerability depends on how an
energy-constrained future is envisioned. Creating localised metrics
about the future is a challenging task fraught with danger but could,
provided that these metrics are interpreted with sufficient humility,
aid the development of equitable policies to encourage resilience, as
part of a worldwide transition away from fossil fuels.

Volume and page numbers

51, 169-182





Area Effects, Geography, Microsimulation and Commuting