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Sustainable Mobility

How do we best tackle greenhouse gas emissions in personal transport?

Nov 3, 2012 in Sustainable Mobility

To achieve the EUs 2050 emissions targets, the transport sector, which accounts for around one third of GHGs, will have to cut its carbon footprint by more than 60% compared with 1990 levels.

This will require a shift, in both attitude and technology, to the way we travel and the way we transport and consume products. It will also require strong collaboration between government and the private sector if we are to reach the goals set forth.

With fossil-fuel prices at an all-time high across the globe, public and commercial appetite for energy saving is high: how can that enthusiasm be turned into long-lasting, effective solutions?

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Dimitrios Mavridis

Blue Book Stagiaire at the Directorate of Innovative and Sustainable Mobility

European Commission

Posted on: 02/12/2012

Collectively and sustainably

Transport accounts for 25% of all gas emissions in the EU.[1] Moving towards a reductive yet efficient solution, we need a collective approach in which policy-makers, business as well as end-users work together. This approach needs to take into account all means of transport from land to air as well as their inter-modality.

At the same time we need to keep in mind that transport is essential for Europe's recovery from the crisis by enabling economic growth and job creation. An accurate example is the automotive industry, EU's largest private R&D investor, accounting for 5% of the EU's GDP and employing 12 million people. [2] This advantage we need to sustain.

So how do we set to do the above?

The European Commission under the Resource Efficiency Flagship[3] of Europe's 2020 Strategy has put together in 2011 the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 [4] and the White paper for the future of transport [5]. Following the analysis within these two initiatives, the main challenge for the transport sector is the reduction by 60% of all GHG emissions by 2050 with respect to 1990 levels. Alternatively, if we would like to give a more positive twist: a reduction by 20% of by 2030.  

Translating this goal into concrete actions a number of proposals have been put forward by the Commission calling for an all-inclusive approach starting from urban to inter-modal transport.

In urban transport some of the initiatives proposed include:

·         Phasing-out of conventionally fuelled vehicles. Businesses producing smaller, lighter vehicles using alternative propulsion systems and fuels for end-users.  This in turn calls for cities and regions to develop appropriate fuelling and charging infrastructures and switching into alternative fuelled public transport. A fine example for this is the Clean Hydrogen in European Cities project [6] gradually implemented around Europe [7].

Developing urban mobility plans to facilitate walking and cycling for citizens.  If the EU cycling rate were the same as it is in Denmark, where the average person cycles 965km per year, then we could cut EU transport emissions by over 25 %. European Commission’s Sustainable Urban Mobility campaign [8], launched in July 2012, is a three-year initiative aiming to support sustainable urban mobility campaigners in the EU-27.

·         Financing innovation and facilitating SMEs access to credit. Phasing-out conventionally fuelled vehicles will require the development of new technologies that increase vehicles efficiency through new engines, materials and design. Here SMEs have an important role to play. The CARS 2020 Action Plan [9] proposes a massive innovative push by streamlining research and innovation under the European Green Cars Initiative [10]. Co-operation with the European Investment Bank will allow financing for European SMEs to develop such technologies while also creating more jobs.

Putting the above within the context of inter-modal transport:

·         Greater integration of modal networks: airports, ports, railway, metro and bus stations. A Single European Transport Area [11] covering rail, sky, ports and road for intercity travel and transport. This calls for more innovative policies as well as introduction of sustainable behaviour for end-users. Useful examples are travel information and carbon footprint calculators.

For citizens to make greater use of buses and coaches, rail and air transport, accurate and on-the-spot online information is required which in turn translates to new fields of investment for business and SMEs to develop electronic booking and provision of information services.

For business to prosper, encourage business-based GHG certification schemes and develop common EU standards in order to estimate the carbon footprint of each passenger with versions adapted to different users such as companies and individuals. This will allow better choices and easier marketing of cleaner transport solutions.


Overall, to best tackle greenhouse emissions in personal transport while also staying competitive we need to apply an approach that includes policy-makers, business and citizens using an integrated inter-modal transport area.




All opinions expressed are my own and do not in any way represent those of the Commission.


[2] Background on the situation in the European car industry  http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-09-83_en.htm?locale=en

[10] European Green Cars Initiative: http://www.green-cars-initiative.eu/public/

[11] White Paper on the Future of Transport: available at:


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Ismail Ertug

MEP, Committee on Transport and Tourism

European Parliament

Posted on: 03/12/2012

Cutting down greenhouse gas emissions is a very complex task which provides a variety of solutions. In my comment, I want to point out three ways to tackle emissions in personal transport.

First, we must improve railway infrastructure, allowing every transport of goods with a distance longer than 300 kilometers to be operated by train. This indirectly affects emissions in personal transport by reducing traffic in general and thereby reducing congestions. 

A second way to achieve lower emissions is to ban individual traffic (cars, motorcycles etc.) from city centers. Central areas of most cities aren’t designed for the amount of traffic they have to deal with. Rush hour traffic, congestions, traffic caused by people searching for a parking – all these problems increase greenhouse gas emissions. By only allowing public transport, bikes or electric vehicles to enter city centers the situation can be easily improved.

As a third point, avoiding unnecessary traffic could help. This includes many aspects, such as the individual’s choice not to use a car - if possible. Long distance commuting also contributes its share to greenhouse gas emissions that can be cut by harmonization of housing and workplaces. Moreover, intelligent technology e.g. car-to-car or car-to-x communication may contribute to fuel saving, helping to drive more efficiently. 

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Michael Cramer


European Parliament

Posted on: 03/12/2012

Transport is responsible for 30% of Europe's CO2-emissions today. This is inter alia due to  a sharp increase by 29% since 1990. It is expected to increase even further in the future. This development conflicts with the achievements in the industry and housing sector, in which pollutant emissions have gone down by 17% and 14% respectively in the same period of time. Therefore, the transport sector nullifies all the positive results we have achieved in other sectors investing billions of euros of our taxpayers' money. As shocking as these figures are, they also lead us into the right direction when it comes to the question of tackling climate change.

Due to the transport sector's enormous CO2-emissions, it is clear that we have to change two fundamental things: First, decision-makers need to change the existing policies and start focusing on the promotion of environment-friendly transport. Secondly, society must adapt and embrace those changes.

Regarding the first point, not enough is currently being done to increase passenger and freight transport by rail, which is one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport. In fact, the existing rules disproportionately disadvantage rail transport in many aspects in comparison to air and road transport.

For every locomotive in Europe there is a mandatory track access charge for each kilometre, which has no fixed limit. However, no such mandatory toll system applies to road. On the contrary, the EU rules leave it up to each Member State whether or not to introduce toll systems on their roads. And if they choose to do so, any such toll is capped at a maximum amount. Moreover, it will mostly only apply on motorways and only to lorries above 12 tonnes.

For transport by air, a comparable system only applies to air planes flying via Siberia. In contrast to that, the airline industry benefits from tax exemptions for their kerosene (€14bn per year), the railway companies have to pay tax on every litre of diesel they use.

Railway companies have to participate fully in the trade of CO2-emissions. However, for the airlines this might only be introduced in 2013. And even then, once they have reached their allocated CO2-emissions limit, 85% of their certificates are exempt so that they will only need to buy the permits for 15%.

Airplane tickets for international flights are VAT-exempt, whereas VAT is charged on cross-border rail tickets by many governments. In Germany, for instance, you have to pay 19 %, the highest value in the EU.

These examples show that environment-friendly modes of transport are gravely and unfairly disadvantaged. In order to fight climate change, these existing rules must be changed as soon as possible. Following that, our ultimate goal should be to give preferential treatment to transport which does not harm the environment.

When it comes to more sustainable technologies, we have to be careful with electric vehicles and agrofuels.

Agrofuels signal a green character, which is not guaranteed. We know that 20% of CO2 emissions stem from deforestation of rainforests and agrofuels risk aggravating this problem. We have to feed the people and not the cars!

It is a pity that most decision-makers use the term 'electric vehicles' as a synonym for e-cars ignoring the fact that electrified transport systems and vehicles include also trams, trains, e-cars, e-bikes etc. Electric mobility has existed since 1881, when the first tram was installed in Lichterfelde near Berlin. Unfortunately, the current discussion on e-cars is monopolised by the car and nuclear industry that declare the notion of 'electric mobility' and e-cars as the solution for fighting against climate change. E-cars are still in the beginning of a technical and commercial development and may indeed play a role as an individual transport vehicle for limited distances within cities and/or its regions in future.

This will only happen if the whole value chain from production to use and recycling displays a better environmental performance than conventional cars. However, only an effective mix of different electric and non-electric transport means can be the solution for transport problems like space use, congestion, emissions, noise, health and accidents. Germany, for instance, has committed to reduce the space transformed into paved areas from now 117 (!) hectare per day to 30 hectare from 2020 onwards. This is an unachievable objective, if automobiles are simply replaced by e-cars; let alone the incredible number of about 35.000 road fatalities per year in the European Union. Rather than pushing a transition limited only to e-cars, we should re-think our strategies to improve our already existing electric transport infrastructure!

With regards to how society needs to adapt, this is indeed a fundamental question. Society plays an important role in the fight against climate change as it is up to the people to implement any political change and, for example, use environment-friendly modes of transport instead of "climate killers" like cars and airplanes. An important measure would be the introduction of a default speed limit of 30 km/h. It would reduce harmful CO2 emissions by 12% due to lower fuel consumption. At the same time it would significantly improve the air quality in cities.

The reason why we as individuals are so important becomes clear when we consider the following statistics: 80% of the people in the EU live in cities or towns, in which transport is responsible for 70% of all climate-damaging emissions. Urban transport therefore provides one of Europe's biggest problems.

However, it is also a great opportunity for change: In Germany, for instance, 90% of all inner-city journeys made by car are shorter than 6 kilometres. These can and should instead be made by public transport. According to Christian Ude (Social Democratic Party), mayor of Munich, the future mobility can be symbolized by the new abbreviation of BMW. Instead of "Bayrische Motorenwerke" we should say "Biking, Metro, Walking"!

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Bikram Lamba

Chairman & Managing Director

Tormacon Limited

Posted on: 03/12/2012

The biggest single emissions-producing component of the energy system for any developed nation (and, increasingly developing nations as well) is the transportation sector. Transportation is responsible for a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and personal vehicles contribute the majority of these emissions. This report examines opportunities that Canadians have to reduce these impacts, lightening their load on the environment and saving fuel costs. The choices you make can reduce your personal environmental impact while saving money at the pump.

This is important to remember that neither government nor individuals alone can do much; but working together on micro and macro level much can be achieved. I delineate a program for the individuals and also recommend regulatory measures  to achieve this goal.

In Canada, approximately 29% of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the transportation sector and just over half of that is personal transportation. Globally, transportation sector emissions are expected to continue to rise as developing countries put more cars and freight transit on the roads. The reduction of GHG emissions from the transportation sector is, therefore, a critical piece of any national climate change and energy strategy. It’s also the toughest sector to tackle. Mobility is at the core of our economy, and personal mobility in particular provides us with unprecedented opportunities and choices with regard to where we live and work and how we spend our recreation time.

Blending biofuels into transportation fuel also reduces the carbon intensity of the transportation fuel. Suncor has been a supporter of biofuels since 1992. Suncor is one of the largest biofuel producers in Canada, having doubled our plant in St. Clair in 2011 to reach a capacity of 400 million litres per year. We continue to review opportunities to extend our investment in advanced or second generation, biofuels (i.e., those that do not compete with the global food supply for their feedstock, such as cellulosic ethanol). A renewable fuel standard that encourages the blending of advanced biofuels could accelerate the research and funding required commercializing the full potential of biofuel innovation.

Another way to reduce the carbon intensity of the overall transportation fuel mix is to introduce alternatives such as electric vehicles or compressed natural gas powered vehicles. Much of the impetus behind these initiatives is driven by a desire to diversify the fuel supply, but these transportation alternatives can also bring significant emission reductions. In urban areas with shorter driving distances, and particularly where hydro-electric power supply is available, electric vehicles are a low emission alternative. Compressed natural gas holds great promise to fuel heavy freight fleets.

Another way to tackle mobility emissions is to improve the efficiency of fuel use of vehicles. Approximately 75% to 80% of the life cycle emissions of gasoline or diesel occur when the fuel is combusted in the vehicle engine. Over the next 20 to30 years, improved vehicle fuel efficiency is likely to have a significant impact in reducing transportation sector emissions. Driven by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environment Canada regulation, vehicle manufacturers are making vehicles lighter and steadily optimizing the way that the internal combustion engine uses gasoline and diesel. At the same time, Suncor continually invests in improving the quality of its fuels so that, by burning cleaner, they will help maintain the overall efficiency of vehicle engines.

Finally, reducing the total distance that vehicles travel is critical to reducing transportation emissions. Good public transit and urban planning are both key. Suncor is a supporter of Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST), an organization that promotes an integrated, community-based approach to resolving energy and environmental challenges.

Encouraging location-efficient development

Location-efficient homes — the opposite of urban sprawl — are a convenient distance from workplaces, amenities (such as stores and urban hubs) and/or rapid transit. These programs shall enable less travelling. Residents increasingly say they would give up a large house and yard and a long car commute in favour of location-efficient homes.

Live Where You Go identifies five policy tools that could be put in place now to encourage more location-efficient development— creating more affordable choices for homebuyers to live where they go, work and play.

Walking and Cycling

Instead of taking your car for short trips, try walking or taking your bike. It is great way to save energy, money and get some fresh air. By using our cars less, we can save fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve local air quality and ease traffic congestion and parking constraints.

However, be safe. In Newfoundland and Labrador, our weather can sometimes affect road and sidewalk conditions. Make sure you are visible, stick to sidewalks or bike lanes and travel on the proper side of the road (walking against traffic, cycling with traffic). Check with your local town council to see if there are walking or cycling maps to help you pick the best route.

Public Transit

Public transit offers a great opportunity to grab a ride, sit back and not have to worry about parking. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are opportunities to take public transit is in St. John's and some of the surrounding areas, like Mount Pearl, and Corner Brook. The City of St, John's maintains the Metrobus transit service that includes a variety of routes to help you move throughout the area.


We spend a lot of time in our vehicles to get to work or school and quite often we travel alone. A great way to save on fuel and catch up with friends is to start a carpool. Here are some tips to become a carpooler:

·         Find people who live nearby and are going in the same direction. Post a sign at your workplace listing your email and neighborhood, asking if others in the area would be interested in carpooling.

·         Agree upfront about a driving schedule and how to share any potential costs. If some members of the carpool don't drive, they should help cover costs.

·         Be flexible and renegotiate the agreement if things (ie. people's schedules or gas prices) change.

·         Stay organized. Plan routes ahead of time from each of the driver's homes and have backup drivers in the event that someone is absent.

·         Maintain a low-stress, respectful carpool. Be on time - if you're late, everyone is late.


The key to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is either to switch to cleaner vehicle fuels or to use less fuel to get where we need to be. As cleaner vehicle fuels are not yet widely available in our province, we need to focus on getting more mileage out of a tank of gas. We can carpool, avoid unnecessary trips or use other ways to get around like walking, cycling and public transit where it is available. Our vehicles are getting cleaner, with Canada and the United States recently passing new fuel efficiency regulations. But in order to help turn back the tide on climate change, we all have to take action.

Canada and the United States recently adopted new fuel-efficiency regulations for passenger trucks. It is estimated that, by 2016, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada will be reduced by 92 million tonnes.


New and improved policies could reduce GHG emissions significantly:

·         Get Tougher on Sprawl. The right improvements to a region’s  land use planning policies can reduce the amount of time people  spend behind the wheel and make transit more accessible to more people. These include:

·         • limiting growth on undeveloped land

·         • increasing population in already developed areas

·         • increasing density along transit corridors and nodes

·         • supporting the development of walkable, shoppable, transit-supportive suburban communities

·         • redirecting investments toward transit and away from highway projects that service “sprawl” development

·         Improve Commuter Choices. The government can improve and introduce new policies that provide commuters with cleaner, safer and faster options to get to work and school, such as:

·         • introducing road-pricing strategies to reduce congestion and help fund transit and smart growth

·         • providing incentives to increase transit use and safer streets for walking and cycling

·         • installing high-occupancy vehicle lanes on all 400 series highways

·         • providing options to leave the car at home with “pay-as-you-drive” insurance and financial incentives to live closer to work

·         Get Efficient. The governments  should introducing national vehicle emission standards beginning with modest targets in 2011 and improving until 2016. Further GHG savings can be achieved by:

·         • continuing to improve these standards past 2016

·         • expanding  green licensing program to include highly fuel-efficient vehicles in addition to electric vehicles

·Power My Ride. A new  plan to strive for 5% electric vehicles by 2020.  Can be evolved on following lines:

·         ensuring building codes and permits support the operation of plug-ins

·          ensuring federal vehicle emission standards include electric vehicles in calculations of fleet efficiency

·         accelerating and improving green licensing incentive program

·         ensuring electric vehicles are powered by renewable energy

·         Go electric by electrify municipal buses.

·         To ensure that GHG emissions from transportation begin declining immediately, the government  can begin with these policy actions that are quick to deploy and do not require significant capital investment:

1. Transit Funding: Develop and implement a strategy to fund the expansion, operation and electrification of transit, considering options such as a fuel tax, road-pricing mechanisms, revenue from carbon pricing, and redirecting investments from highway projects that service sprawl to transit.

2. Commuter Choice: Introduce policies that influence commuter choice and result in less time spent behind the wheel. Types of policies include live-where-you-work incentives, pay-as-you-drive insurance, congestion charges and employer incentives for transit use and active transportation.

3. Urban Planning: Strengthen targets in the Growth Plan to limit sprawl on undeveloped land, working with municipalities to reward development that reduces auto dependence and encourages walkability.

4. Vehicle Efficiency: Implement policies and incentives that encourage the manufacture and uptake of more efficient vehicles, including electric vehicles and EV infrastructure.


The combination of personal and governmental efforts can effectively reduce GHG emissions.


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Philip Insall

Director, Health and International


Posted on: 07/12/2012

Transport: the problem

Over the whole lifetime of the European Union, transport policy has concentrated on increasing motorised mobility.  We have spent a lot of effort and money to move people and goods further and faster.  Today, much too late, we are realising that accessibility should be the priority – that people should be able to access the goods, services, experiences and social contact they need, while minimising the need to transport the people or the goods from one place to another.

We also need to recognise that transport has impacts in a number of policy sectors: the best strategies to address climate emissions from transport will be those which create benefit in the other sectors too.  Motorised transport is the guilty sector in Europe, the one whose climate changing emissions continue to rise when other sectors are cutting carbon.  But motorised traffic also causes death and injury through road crashes, suppresses physical activity, damages health through local air pollution and noise, and consumes valuable land.

The scale of the problem is well illustrated by the World Health Organisation, which has shown that in Europe:

·            road crashes kill 120,000 people a year and injure 2,5 million

·            local air pollution causes tens of thousands of premature deaths each year

·            physical inactivity contributes to a million deaths a year.


Co-benefits: sustainable transport is healthy too

Three main policy areas therefore point towards a shift from personal motorised transport to walking, cycling and public transport.  These are public health, climate policy and – because the remaining supplies of fossil fuels are concentrated in remote or politically sensitive parts of the globe – external relations and defence.

In the UK, 40% of local trips are currently made by walking, cycling and public transport.  Work by Sustrans and others has shown that with a shift in investment priorities, better information and education, this proportion could be doubled….. and that is what we have called for: a doubling in sustainable local transport by 2020.

This is a radical proposal but it is realistic, and has widespread support.  For example, a group of over 100 professional and community-based organisations in transport, environment and public health have made six recommendations to government at all levels, which aim primarily at improving the nation’s health but would also have a real impact on climate emissions.  In Take action on active travel they say:

·            set ambitious targets for a growth in walking and cycling – and ensure they are met

·            invest at a realistic level: commit 10% of transport budgets to walking and cycling immediately, and in future ensure that transport funds are allocated proportionate to the new, ambitious target levels

·            create safe, attractive walking and cycling conditions, so that walking and cycling are faster and more convenient than motor travel

·            make 20mph (30kph) or lower speed limits the norm: only the busiest strategic traffic routes should now qualify for higher speed limits

·            tackle bad driving, through improved driver training and awareness campaigns, backed by stronger and better enforced traffic laws

·            ‘health check’ every transport and land use decision: reject proposals whose impact on walking and cycling will not be positive.


Choosing the strongest policy drivers

Climate change is probably the biggest threat facing humankind.  It is already killing large numbers of people, every day brings new and more frightening scientific evidence, but our policies and lifestyles continue to make it worse.  Perhaps because the scale of the problem is so terrifying, both politicians and public have so far failed to address climate change with the urgency it deserves, and this is made worse by a vocal minority keen to reject the science.

Climate policy may therefore not be the best tool to change our behaviour and reduce our transport emissions.  ‘Sustainable transport’ is the same thing as ‘active travel’.  Tackling obesity and healthier children are more attractive to governments than climate action.  So the best way to tackle climate change emissions from transport may be not to talk about the climate at all, but to concentrate on the health benefits to the individual, and the economic gains to society, that come from getting out of the car and choosing active travel.

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Alexander Viehweider


The University of Tokyo

Posted on: 16/12/2012

As a researcher in the field of electromobility and intelligent energy system design and simulation, I am allowed to look not only in a future comprising the next ten years but also beyond. My prediction for an effective means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the long range is based on a further electrification of the mobility sector and the establishment of a smarter infrastructure where energy efficiency plays a dominant role.

Following key points can be identified in this regard:


1.    Mobility will be considered as a service that is carried out in the most highly efficient way (economic, energy efficient, ..). Owning a means of transportation will  not be important anymore. Public traffic and individual traffic will become seamless and highly inter tangled.

2.    A mobility service will be a service that can be bought in a competitive market and relies on all means on transportation combined in the most efficient way (car, bus, bicycle, train, airplane but also personal mobility solution like Segway, Uni-Cub from Honda, …) in order to get from A to B via C and maybe back to A. Energy efficiency of the service will be the driving criteria since it will be strongly related to the profit of the service provider.

3.    Computer algorithm compute the most efficient, comfortable and fastest route from A to B by combining different types of information (traffic, weather, …).

4.    The single entities of transportation will become more energy efficient, for example cars will be driven by electricity, they recover part of the energy during braking. New algorithms minimize the needed energy during a steering maneuver (like RECS form the University of Tokyo and others) and distribute driving force in the most energy efficient way during longitudinal drive. The whole vehicle is designed from the view point of efficiency. Heating and cooling for the driver is done locally. Stress from vehicle battery is released by using super capacitors.

5.    Airplanes of the future will also be more electric. Starting and landing is assisted by wireless power transmission technology thereby reducing the needed amount of fuel (weight of the aircraft). Air traffic control will be highly automatized (SESAR, NEWSKY and other initiatives) than today and energy is after safety the second most important criteria for this kind of system. (For example: Reducing the waiting time of an aircraft in the sky before having the permission to land.)

6.    Entities of transportation become driverless, optimization algorithm compute the most energy efficient acceleration and deceleration trajectory guaranteeing highest safety for the passengers.

7.    The whole road infrastructure becomes more and more intelligent, while equipped with more sensors, the  wireless charging during drive becomes a reality. It increases the travelling range of the cars and the equipment (antennas) installed in the road for charging the vehicle can be used for safety means as well. A highly sophisticated computing engine computes global solutions, showing the ideal traffic velocity for a traffic flow on a road, distances between vehicles, .. are determined, acting on traffic lights etc. Enforcement of speed limits is done automatically by communicating the speed via wireless communications to the driverless vehicle. Vehicle to vehicle communication will be used for safety purposes and also communicate certain particular states to the system (unexpected obstacle and others). Combination of local intelligence and central intelligence can and will be common a common usage. Energy consumption will always be a key criterium in this complex system since energy will be strictly related to cost.

8.    Entities of transportation will fit better to the actual reason of the current mobility need. If one wants to visit his friend in another part of the city, carrying neither luggage nor another person, he does not need a car that can move 5 people and heavy luggage. Simple by initiating a mobility service query on his smart phone, he gets better solutions for his current transportation or mobility need.

9.    Mobility infrastructure and energy infrastructure are optimized together. For example, the mobility infrastructure helps to stabilize the energy infrastructure (for example by appropriate selection of the time period for vehicle charging or discharging) that will rely more and more on a highly volatile renewable energy sources.

10.  Information and communication technology and production based on the 3 D printer technology reduce the need for certain type of travel and the need for moving certain goods to a certain extent. Highly intelligent electronic personal time calendars and planners arrange the time schedule in a way that minimizes travel miles guaranteeing energy efficiency and comfort.


Fully aware that mobility will not change to such an highly complex and  highly smart system (especially not in a tight economic situation as it appears to be now) by tomorrow, the academic and industrial research environment are already considering all these ideas very thoroughly and a lot of problems are basically already solved. It is now more a matter of efficient implementation with the right time horizon for investment, implementation, economic viability and also of guaranteeing comfort for the user in his adaptation process to such a system.

Last but not least, transportation will always rely on the availability of energy. But like we tried and try to decouple economic growth of a country from its need for energy, we should decouple also increasing comfortable mobility services supply from used energy demand. What I mean is using less energy by providing more and better mobility services to the people by using advanced technology. This will be one of the most effective approaches when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.


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Peter Boisen

Chairman - Country Representatives Committee

NGVA Europe (Natural Gas Vehicle Association), Madrid, Spain

Posted on: 17/12/2012

Personal transport can by type be split up into railbound trains, trams and metro systems, coaches, different size urban buses, passemger cars, ferries and passenger ships, aircraft, motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles. Transport needs can also be split up into very short, short, medium, long and and intercontinental transports. The energy used for most means of transport can basically be split between fossil fuels, renewable fuels and electric grid power (with a varying degree of the use of renewable power). 


The need to reduce GHG emissions suggests several obvious choices.

·Modal changes shifting personal transports from less to more GHG efficient means of transportation.

·Greater use of railbound transport instead of air transport can contribute if the rail traffic is sufficiently fast and efficient. Faster and more cost efficient rail transports can also reduce coach and  passenger car transports

·Use of ferries can sometimes be an efficient alternative to long distance driving of cars, coaches and trains..

·Use of grid powered urban vehicles can sometimes be more efficient than conventional fuel powered vehicles.

·Hydrogen produced from renewable power and used in fuel cells might in the future become an interesting alternative

·General improvements of power train efficiency linked with reduced vehicle weight and improved aerodynamics

·Replacing high carbon fossil fuels with low carbon fossil fuels (both in CHP plants and in different transportation vehicles)

·Replacing fossil transportation fuels with renewable low carbon (also considering ILUC effects) fuels

·Replacing fossil fuel powered CHP plants with plants generating electricity from completely renewable sources (solar, wind, tides, waves etc)

·Reducing business travelling needs via meetings using state-of-the-art electronic communication tools

·Hybridisation could, particularly in urban vehicles using spark ignition engines, offer significant GHG emission reductions

·Improving traffic flow via debottlenecking of major traffic arteries (vehicle GHG emissions roughly twice as high in dense city traffic compared to highway traffic)

·Shorter term traffic flow improvements could be achieved e.g. via municipal agrements regarding the spreading of shift start/stop hours at major industries

Some of the options listed above can be introduced already in the short or medium term, others only in the medium or longer term. Considering the urgency of GHG emission reductions we need action which gives quick and significant results while at the same time planning for a future even more GHG efficient society. Looking at already available road vehicle options the use of natural gas instead of petrol can cut emissions by up to 30% (both vehicle types using spark ignited engines). However, the comparison between natural gas and diesel powered vehicles is less favourable - about the same GHG emissions, but more fuel efficient diesel engines thanks to the use of compression ignition engines. But, natural gas, a readily available fuel, can also (with diesel like efficiency) be used in compression ignition engines if the ignition is supported via pilot injection of diesel. The GHG advantage is then again approaching 30%. Replacing crude oil derivatives with natural gas could thus already in the short term reduce GHG emissions from new vehicles by up to 30%. Assuming an average vehicle life-time of 15 years this shift alone would gradually reduce vehicle GHG emissions by up to 30%. A hybridisation of the vehicles would in addition offer further very significant reductions. The future use of serial rather than parallel hybrids could possibly offer further benefits since these engines do not suffer the throttling losses connected with standard spark ignition engines. Vested interests (refiners, fuel distributors, engine producers etc using older technology etc) should not be allowd to block progess.


Renewable hydrocarbon resources are currently used both in CHP plants and in transportation. Solar radiation, winds, waves etc could be used for heat and power generation, but cannot readily (some exceptions for rail transport or short range road vehicles) be used to power other road vehicles, ships or aircraft. In the search for further GHG reductions we should thus prioritise the use of renewable hydrocarbon resources as transportation fuels and use other available renewable resources for heat and power generation, or possibly for conversion of electric energy into energy carriers like hydrogen.


Looking at possible renewable fuels there are different types of resources - parts of land grown crops used as food or fodder, other parts of land grown crops, parts of of crops grown in a marine environment and suited for use as food or fodder,  other parts of marine crops, forestry products, forest industry residues, and finally all types of organic waste resources.  Leaving aside the annual harvests which could be used for nutritional purposes, or for production of high value forestry products, the balance should ideally be used for high efficiency production of renewable fuels. Most of these resources are on a global scale well suited for anaerobic digestion resulting in production of biogas which can easily be upgraded into pure biomethane. Ligno-cellulosic residues from the forest industry could better be gasified to produce the base for various syntheic hydrocarbon fuels. The raw synthesis gas, dependant upon the gasification temperatures, contains different shares of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane. The synthesis gas could be converted into any given hydrocarbon fuel. The most energy efficient choice is most likely to produce synthetic biomethane. This paragraph illustrates that all organic resources which without disadvantage  could be transformed into a hydrocarbon fuel could with advantage be used to produce biomethane. As it happens this gas in principle has the same chemical composition as natural gas and can thus without any restrictions be blended with natural gas. A step-by-step increased capture and use of the organic waste resources could thus be used to increase the renewable content of methane supplied for use as a transportation fuel. Advocates of other biofuels will, of course, bring forward arguments favouring their particular fuel option, but will have great difficulties in proving that the production of their pet fuel will provide a basis for further increased substitution of fossil fuels.The simpler the fuel, the higher the conversion efficiency. A particular advantage of anaerobic digestion of waste is the fact that the production process does not require very large scale operations. Waste is available where people live and the waste can be processed without long distance feedstock transportation and also without long distance transport of the digestate which will replace artificial fertilizers otherwise used on agricultural land. The processing of waste will also, particularly in developing countries, help to sanitize inland lakes and rivers, and reduce the need for increasingly expensive oil product imports. Considering the usually much lower fuel usage in such countries the waste resources will normally also be able to supply a very large share of required transportation fuels.    


I agree that hydrogen, DME, or methanol are other renewable fuel options which probably could be produced from synthetic gas with efficiences close to the efficiency of methane. But the infrastructure for distribution of these fuels is almost non existent, regulations are not yet in place, and there are not yet really any commercial offers of vehicles using these fuels. For substantial short term GHG savings biomethane is a much safer bet. The gas can be transported using existing natural gas pipelines or bulk LNG transports and distributed via existing CNG or L-CNG outlets. Regulations are in place and there is a wide variety of vehicle offers. In contrast to various other existing biofuels there is also absolutely no need for seasonal variations of the fuel quality.


In summary:

Large short term reductions of GHG emissions can be achieved via increased use of methane as a transportation fuel. The 30% improvement potential offered by natural gas can be further increased via an increasing share of biomethane (on average on a wells-to-wheels basis offering close to zero GHG emissions, at best with 'negative' CO2 emissions). Sweden now runs more than 40.000 NGVs using a mix of 60% biomethane and 40% natural gas. These vehicles produce around 70% less GHG emissions than conventionally fuelled vehicles. Why not follow this example also elsewhere?


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Councillor Ian Davey

Chair of the Transport Committee

Brighton & Hove City Council

Posted on: 17/12/2012

We can try to influence people's choices by making public transport's access into the city as easy and efficient as possible. So we have a very good train...

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Peter van der Gaag


Holland Innovation Team

Posted on: 20/12/2012

Europe needs clean transport. The volume of heavy duty trucks and inland navigation ships will increase as well as the emissions they produce.
There are several technological solutions but all of them have severe disadvantages. Why promote electricity for cars if the result is more coal power plants. Besides batteries are too heavy for trucks. Why promote biofuels like biodiesel and bio-ethanol when we will lose agricultural land to grow crops? Most people do not want food in their fuelling tanks.  
Recently there has come up a group of companies stating that LNG as a transportation fuel will have the future. Majors like Shell and Gaz de France are aiming at rapid evolution of LNG in heavy transport. China already has chosen for LNG: it wants to have 200,000 LNG heavy duty trucks on the road in 2015 and the country is building hundreds of LNG fuelling stations a year. This year alone 5,000 LNG buses have entered into operation in China. Yet LNG is still a fossil fuel. 

But here comes bio-LNG, the liquid form of bio-methane, the cheapest and cleanest biofuel without competition with food or land use. With current LNG and biomass residue prices it is clear that already now in Asia bio-LNG can be produced cheaper than fossil LNG on the spot market. In the Philippines Gazasia has announced to build three bio-LNG plants and more to come in Asia. 
There are some other important factors to discuss about LNG and its cleaner renewable counterpart bio-LNG. LNG imported by large scale LNG carriers comes from Qatar, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and other remote places not leading on the list of democratic countries. What about security of supply in that case? Also the footprint of the complete chain from drilling and exploitation of natural gas, via liquefaction and waste disposal, and long transport across the oceans, on to very expensive (and by the way now mostly empty..) terminals does not score well in comparison with producing bio-LNG from our own European waste and landfills.
Furthermore one should keep in mind that the quality of bio-LNG is always better than that of LNG because the bugs that produce the initial biogas do not produce ethane, propane and butane. These heavy hydrocarbons present in fossil LNG lower the methane number which again lowers the performance of gas engines and increases the risk of knocking.
It is an illusion to think that bio-LNG can be produced in quantities like large LNG producers produce fossil LNG. On the other hand, we could fulfil the RED obligation of 10% biofuels in 2020 by bio-LNG alone, without need for heavily controversial biodiesel and bio-ethanol. Bio-LNG can be used directly, then it will be the absolute premium LNG fuel, or it can be used to increase fossil LNG quality. It might even be used to qualify heavy fossil LNG as a transportation fuel in cases where it has methane number under 85 (or even 75). 
To conclude, bio-LNG is the cheapest and cleanest biofuel, which can be used in heavy duty trucks, (inland) navigation, trains and even (in future) planes. It can improve quality of fossil LNG, which already is a step forward for transportation. Blending of 10% of bio-LNG into fossil LNG will cost the European community much less than blending diesel and petrol with the other biofuels that bring debatable greenhouse emission improvements. 

So what are you waiting for EU: blending of bio-LNG into fossil LNG should be made mandatory immediately. The best thing to do next is a public communication that LNG projects for transport will not be supported by EU funds unless the renewable bio-LNG – as a blending component or pure biofuel – is incorporated in the project.

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Jeffrey Seisler


Clean Fuels Consulting

Posted on: 24/12/2012

The answer is complex and multifaceted and many excellent ideas have been proposed by the Comment Vision participants. 


Options for changing personal behavior for the individual are available immediately:  get out of the car and walk or ride a bike; stay in the car and drive with more passengers, travel less and work more ‘by wire’ and internet, etc. etc.  Another way is to choose transportation options (including mass transit) that rely on fuel alternatives to petroleum.  While there are immediate options including vehicles that run on natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, or electricity the widespread availability of both cars and fuelling/charging opportunities is not yet synchronized enough to offer the mass of drivers an easy alternative, although over time this will change.


Focusing on automobiles, however, there is a large and inconsistent gap between policy makers’ desire to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the current regulatory approach toward vehicles that must be changed:  We need to create a universal greenhouse gas regulation focusing on the ‘bundle’ of GHGs, including C02, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). (Ozone-forming hydrocarbons, another set of greenhouse emissions are well-covered in current regulations.)  The US EPA has focused for the past two-to-three decades on ozone (O3) which is a product of hydrocarbon fuel combustion and chemical reactions from a multitude of emissions that include oxygen molecules that in sunlight bind together to form O3.  European policy makers have focused on CO2 as the emission of choice to reduce global warming.  Both approaches are inadequate because they only address pieces of the problem and lack the holistic view needed to help encourage more consistent and sensible regulations that will improve the long term negative impacts of automobile emissions. 


So how can governments – let’s focus on already-GHG-conscious Europe -- approach a universal, comprehensive GHG regulation that helps the environment but that also does not strangle the car-makers’ ability to produce clean vehicles that are fuel efficient, economically competitive (and affordable!) and still fun to drive?


1. The current method of regulating CO2 instead of the bundle of GHGs lacks scientific rigor and needs to be completely revamped in terms of structure and timing.  Advocates for natural gas vehicles (NGV) have been struggling to get sensible regulations for non-methane hydrocarbons and methane for nearly twenty years.  Paradoxically, CO2 is not labeled as a pollutant yet methane (commonly natural gas) was, in 2000, defined as a pollutant because it is a global warming precursor.  This has lead to a seriously imbalanced set of vehicle regulations for methane that hinders the development of NGVs, which actually reduce GHG emissions by 20-25% over gasoline vehicles. 

2. The existing regulatory system almost completely ignores incentives for building low-carbon fuel alternatives except for electricity.  Automakers can get ‘credits’ for building vehicles achieving 50 g/km CO2, which means only an electric vehicle.  Incentives in the form of CO2 credits should be provided to automakers that make lower GHG emission vehicles in advance of whatever transition schedule is developed as a phase-in.  Incentives also can be tied to non-petroleum fuels (i.e. thinking about energy security).  This same system might include petroleum-based fuels if target CO2 reductions are ‘significantly’ below transitional GHG emissions targets.  But if automakers are going to have the ‘emissions stick’ waved at them then they deserve an ‘emissions-credit-carrot’ for their early achievements for building low-GHG-emission vehicles, which also would encourage more cars available on natural gas and LPG, for example.

3. A move to dealing with GHGs as a ‘bundle’ must include a substantial phase-in schedule that is reasonable and achievable by the auto industry, also taking into account the cost-benefits of emissions reduction strategies  such as catalyst solutions, efficiency gains, and the development of fuel alternatives in a ‘meaningful’ way.  ‘Meaningful’ means that the policy must be balanced and not so heavily and fanatically focused on electric vehicle mobility (or on hydrogen as was the case a decade ago). 

4.The entire policy must be considered in light of the economic environment facing the car industry.  Policy makers must remember that the car industry is at the heart of many economies into which feed other supply chains and commodities such as glass, steel, rubber, aluminum, electronics, and a wide variety of auto parts.  The car industry and government regulators traditionally have been engaged in a zero-sum battle over such issues as safety, emissions, and efficiency.  The vehicle industry must today start creating their own proposals in advance of the inevitable future of a GHG regulatory framework which, like it or not, is going to occur.  And regulators – here talking of both Europeans and Americans -- must get their politics aligned with the facts of science and the practicality of regulating GHGs sensibly and with sensitivity toward the car industry.  The debate will take time – probably 8-to-10 years – but working together industry and government can make enormous impacts on reducing GHG emissions for personal transport.  This same process must also apply to regulations for heavy duty vehicles as well. 


The success of the universal GHG emission regulatory strategy should result in the outcome we are beginning to see:  provide cleaner, more efficient and affordable personal transport based on a variety of fuel alternatives so that the customers have the best possible options available.  Ultimately it will be the customers who decide which clean vehicles to purchase and for what specific transport and recreational applications.  But they need to have a choice and the current regulatory framework for vehicle emissions won’t allow that happen soon enough. 


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Robert Atkinson


Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Posted on: 07/01/2013

How do we best tackle greenhouse gas emissions in personal transport?

As I noted  on this site several years ago, "The most important thing we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation is to transform existing high carbon fuels fleets to low or no-carbon ones." The same need applies more specifically to personal transport, which singularly accounts for about 10 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally and 20 percent in the United States. While there are many options for GHG reductions – biofuels, natural gas vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, for example – electric vehicles (EVs) are the natural choice by virtue of their relatively advanced market position and potential to emit no tailpipe emissions. But conventional policies to drive greater adoption of EVs – subsidies and carbon and gas taxes – simply aren’t cutting it.

As the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation explores in detail in a recent report, Shifting Gears: Transcending Conventional Economic Doctrines to Develop Better Electric Vehicle Batteries, most EV proponents advocate for continuing subsidies and carbon and gas taxes as the best way of spurring EV purchases and point to modest market growth as evidence of their success. The thinking goes lowering EVs’ price relative to their gas alternatives is sufficient impetus for their widespread adoption. Thus, in the United States, consumers can benefit from a $7,500 federal tax break for buying qualifying EVs, in addition to an assortment of state incentives. Similarly, the United Kingdom offers grants of 2,000-5,000 pounds ($3,110-$7,777 USD) for consumers to purchase certain EV models. On the flip side, many European countries employ a combination of carbon and gas taxes, increasing the price of gasoline there to as much as $8 or $9 a gallon – which makes it more expensive to operate gas cars.

But modest market growth is insufficient when the goal of policymakers should be the complete transformation of the global transportation sector. Ultimately, EV sales have remained sluggish due to the simple fact that they are neither cost nor performance competitive with gas cars. And under the best of circumstances, subsidies and carbon and gas taxes only address the former issue.

Even when considering lifetime operating costs, EVs can cost significantly more than their gas alternatives. And while gas cars can travel more than 300 miles between refueling, most of today’s EVs have a range of less than 100 miles per charge. Furthermore, the EV charging process can take as long as 20 hours, depending on the technology available. Even with the fastest charging apparatus, EV owners have to wait 30 minutes – which compares poorly with the 5 minutes it takes to refuel a gas car at a gas station.

Advances in EV battery technology have the potential to solve all three EV issues – cost, range, and charging time. But subsidies and carbon and gas taxes don’t provide enough impetus for innovation. What is needed instead is a concerted government effort to support battery research and development and help breakthrough technologies move quickly from the lab to the market. When EVs can compete with gas cars on both a cost and performance basis, without having to rely on subsidies, automakers won’t have to rely on appealing to consumers’ environmental consciousness to sell them (TV advertising for the Nissan Leaf in the United States centers on a grateful polar bear). EVs’ capabilities will sell themselves – and the shift to a low carbon personal transportation sector can begin in earnest.

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Dr. Randy Rzewnicki

Cycle Logistics Project Manager

European Cyclists' Federation

Posted on: 10/01/2013

We know that we could get up to 90% of trips done by trucks, done in smaller vehicles and as far as private individuals go for personal or private logistics as we called it, we could...

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Marc Stoiber

Creative Director, Brand Strategist

Marc Stoiber Enterprises

Posted on: 11/01/2013

One company that is tweaking its existing services with great success is UPS.  Peter Harris, Director of Sustainability at UPS for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, shed some light on UPS’s successes and challenges in a recent conversation.

Harris, who is speaking on this subject at the upcoming Sustainable Brands conference in London, believes innovation needs to answer a financial, environmental, and business ecosystem agenda. “Clearly, innovations that aren’t financially or environmentally sustainable won’t work. But it’s also important to consider how our new ideas will work within the structure of our existing customer and supplier relationships.”

Harris points to UPS’s experiment with barge shipping at the London Olympics and Paralympic Games.  Instead of shipping furniture and large items overland, the organization contracted with barge companies to bring them up the river Thames.

The environmental benefit seemed clear, as did the projected cost savings. In reality, though, the underdeveloped infrastructure for commercial barging on the Thames made the venture costly. As a legacy project it succeeded. But as an immediately attractive innovation, it didn’t.

Harris believes honing the efficiency of UPS’s current model is critical to setting the tone for future innovation.

As he says, “You have to make your conventional business model more efficient before you start adding bells and whistles.”

He believes those efficiencies can be found inside, and outside the business. At UPS, for example, making the truck fleet run more efficiently involves more than internal initiatives like regulating how many turns the drivers make. It also includes tapping biofuels from organic and landfill sources.

“If we leave this stuff to rot, it creates twenty times the greenhouse gas than it would going out a tailpipe. And on a ‘wheel to wheel’ basis, biomethane creates 70% less greenhouse gas than an energy equivalent amount of diesel” Harris says. “Our argument to government is that we need to use this fuel where it isn’t currently being used – and where it can make a big difference. In transport trucks like ours, for example.

If this expansive perspective on efficiency sounds like innovation, so be it. To Harris, the most important thing is to stay keenly focused on honing the business. As he says, sustainability is about longevity. “We’ve been around for a hundred years. My goal is to help us thrive for another hundred.”

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Nils Dressel


Weber Shandwick

Posted on: 15/01/2013

When we talk about GHG emissions from personal transport cars are our main focus. According to the European Environmental Agency, car journeys accounted for 74 % of all internal EU27 passenger transport demand in 2010. The EU has therefore set some of the most strict CO2 emission targets for cars worldwide and is currently in the process of revising them.

In 2008 the Commission proposed a target of 95g CO2 emissions per km on average for new cars to be achieved by 2020. This is currently being reviewed and in the European Parliament there are heated debates over this target, specifically whether it is too high or too low, and whether it will have the desired effect of reducing GHG emission from the road transport sector.

Stakeholders concerned by environmental issues argue that the target should be lower, in order to realise the full emission savings potential of new technologies and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. Proponents from some companies argue for a higher target to avoid any unnecessary burden on car manufacturers, to retain their competitiveness compared to other regions in the world and to keep future cars affordable for consumers.

Even with this disagreement there is also some middle ground between both sides. Everybody agrees that in order to reach the Commission White Paper on Transport targets of reducing CO2 emissions from transport by 60% in 2050, reduction of CO2 from cars will be the key. Cars will need to consume less fuel and use alternative fuel forms such as hydrogen, natural gas or electricity.

So while nobody can say for sure what kind of car we will drive 30 years from now, one thing is certain: it will emit only a fraction of today’s CO2 emissions. But will this mean we have reached our goal of significantly decreasing GHG emissions from personal transport?

The current emission legislation based on tailpipe has been very effective and led to an impressive reduction of the average CO2 emissions from cars. Looking to the future we need to consider that other options beyond tailpipe emissions may be considered by the European Commission as a means to reduce CO2 emissions from transport. New developments like advanced drive trains, including electric cars, or alternative fuels made from renewable energy sources could shift emissions from the use to production and recycling phases. For example, while a typical gasoline-powered vehicle currently emits only around 15% of its GHG during production, the use of cellulosic ethanol or a shift towards battery or hybrid electric vehicles could significantly increase the share of vehicle production emissions . For a battery electric vehicle powered entirely by renewable electricity, vehicle production emissions could account for as much as 85% of overall CO2 emissions.

Lifecycle assessment (LCA) of CO2 emissions from cars is already being discussed in policy circles. This approach starts with assessing CO2 emissions from the extraction of the raw materials, over the different production steps, throughout the use phase until the final recycling or disposal phase. LCA is a scientifically established method that takes into account most environmental impacts created during the life of a product. 

LCA is also already being used on a voluntary basis in the EU Ecolabel for consumer products as well as by car manufacturers themselves.

However, introducing life cycle assessment into emission regulation will not be an easy task. Nevertheless LCA is likely to be part of the debate when it comes to tackling GHG emissions from personal transport.


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Gianni López Ramírez


Centro Mario Molina Chile

Posted on: 18/01/2013

Due to the income growth, public transport systems in Latin America are losing more passenger than ever. Curitiba, the Brazilian city, an icon in sustainable transport in the region that inspired the Bus Rapid Transit concept in others cities, like Bogota and Mexico city, shows a deteriorated operation of the buses services due to the congestion produced by the fast growing car fleet. Probably, the number of vehicles in Latin America will be tripled by 2050, reaching a total number of 250 millions.

If we are not able to decouple the annual mileage from the income growth, the only alternative to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in personal transport will be the technology of private cars. It is difficult to accept, but the consumer’s behavior in developing countries has followed the bad practices of the developed markets, mainly the USA car market, with a delay of 5 to 10 years: a huge interest in SUVs and light duty trucks. It will take at least the rest of this decade to put in operation policies that can change this problem, mainly through fuel economy labeling and fiscal incentives. The rest of the decade will bring an additional of 50 million cars with medium to high GHG emissions (conventional cars with more than 160 CO2 grams per kilometer).

For the next decade the discussion will be around the advanced technologies available for domestic manufactures, especially in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. Until now, there are no incentives for this kind of technologies, and no news about R&D activities in vehicle manufactures. The only technology that shows activity is flexfuel combined with first generation biofuel production.

Latin America produced a solution pack for sustainable transport a decade ago: Bus Rapid Transit Systems + biofuels. Today, this pack is not enough to tackle GHG emissions in personal transport in the region. The following decade will be a decade of private personal transport that will need more advanced technology that has not yet been developed in the region. This could be an opportunity for technology transfer under new international instruments, like the National Appropriated Mitigation Actions, supporting, for example, national fuel economy standards.



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Ilse van Hartevelt

Senior Vice President

FTI Consulting

Posted on: 21/01/2013

Without a market, market mechanisms do not work; Europe needs a coherent and instructive transition policy to build up a market for low carbon passenger cars

If Europe is really keen on decarbonising its transport sector, the process of change has to be speeded up drastically. An instructive and coherent transition policy has to be developed to give long-term stability for companies to make their investment-decisions for new investments in new technologies and for allowing them to phase out the current investments they are locked into. 

However, an instructive transition policy must avoid to make technology-choices. It should set the conditions for new technologies to be commercially deployed, in order to really make an impact on the decarbonisation ambition. The European Union should avoid creating preferential conditions for technologies that seem to be more mature today, as this can waste higher value innovations which would have progressed very fast under the right circumstances.  The upcoming Clean Power for Cars package runs the risk of a too biased target-setting for some technologies while only putting in place recommendations for others. Such level of instruction is rather steering the market to a certain solution instead of enabling the market for the best solution.   

Making transport less fossil fuel dependent is the general steer that the White Paper on Future Transport provides.  A mix of alternative fuels and power-trains is needed to replace fossil fuels in transport, however completely new markets will have to be built for these low carbon cars.

The technologies are ready for deployment, so the key question is: "how can the EU ensure the right level of investment to deploy the necessary mix of alternative technologies and new refuelling infrastructure?"


The question is how to finance building up the low carbon car market?

There is no cheap way to changing the current fossil-focused system to a low carbon system. New markets are to be built up from scratch and risky, high upfront investments need to be made.   To build a market for electric cars, both electric and hydrogen powered, a new infrastructure needs to be built. For fuel cell electric cars, the initial hydrogen refuelling infrastructure investments are high, as the utilisation-rate is initially low. When scaling up, these costs go down. For battery electric cars the trend is opposite, the initial recharging infrastructure investment is relatively low, but when  scaling up the volume of cars, the number of individual recharging points go up and additional investments in the grid are necessary. However, in order to reduce the carbon-footprint of cars, both technologies are needed to reach the decarbonisation objectives.

These transition-costs to build up the market for low carbon cars will not be taken up by the market alone.  The call for change is driven by a societal ambition to reduce GHG emissions. There is no direct individual benefit in terms of performance or cost for the end-user. So there is no market-incentive to start the process. To overcome this market-failure, the first period of market-introduction will have to be supported.

New Risk-absorption mechanisms need to back up the transition

Such transition framework should be backed up with a strong financial framework for implementation. If you want to install refuelling infrastructure without the corresponding necessary car-volume in place, the returns on investments will be below zero for a long period of time. And vice-versa, who will start producing cars if there is no decent refuelling network in place?

To raise the necessary capital for investment, public and private partners will have to work together closely in order to share the initial risks involved with building up the market. The crucial factor for change is the availability of risk-absorption-mechanisms.  The investments necessary for the transition do not meet any financial hurdle-rate, nor within individual companies, nor within public or private banks. Even the current (EIB) risk-sharing tools require bankable projects, and are thus inappropriate for long term investments with unsure and long-term returns.  Such risk-absorption mechanism should facilitate risk-sharing at the beginning of the investment, but also revenue-sharing when the project is successful. In this way, society does not just pay the initial investment-gap, but benefits from the successes later.

Most initiatives aim to influence market-behaviour. For example, the fuel-quality directive should credit low carbon fuels, subsidies should stimulate demand and the upcoming clean power for transport package should stimulate the build up of a European-wide refuelling network for alternative fuels. However,  without a market, market-based mechanisms don’t work.

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Ole Thorson Jorgenson

Board member

Int. Fed. of Pedestrians, IFP.

Posted on: 23/01/2013

Two thoughts:
Get the prices right (political-social action) and internalise personally the concept (individual action). When we organise a meeting (also on Sunday) be sure that you can reach the site on foot, with bike or evidently with public transport.  Help assistants to remember which lines and time table are best for the trip.

The emissions and private car use have an important negative effect on our health, and is a hard weight on our public health account. Lack of physical activity diminishes quality of life. One of the most effective ways of reducing the health budget, and get surplus for the public accounts, is to minimise illness caused by emissions and by traffic accidents. If general emissions are reduced – the greenhouse gas effects too.

The administrations could change the economic balance between sustainable and less sustainable mobility. Better urban speed for public transport and some restraint on the private vehicle speeds. Be sure that public transport stops are nearer the user than parking space for private cars. 

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Susan Zielinski

Managing Director

SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation), University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, USA

Posted on: 28/01/2013

There are probably at least 50 ways to tackle greenhouse gas emissions related to personal transport, and given the circumstances globally we probably need to deploy as many of them as we can. Right away.

But this raises a wider and more fundamental question if we really want to address not only greenhouse gas emissions but the full and interconnected suite of pressing problems and exciting opportunities arising around personal transport right now. That question is:

Do we want to tweak or do we want to transform?

In other words, are we satisfied with confining the personal transport-related greenhouse gas emissions debate (and research, and policy, and action, and -- most importantly -- budget) to alternative energy and engine design and even robotic / automated design focused mainly on the single occupancy vehicle?



This predominant approach could be considered “tweaking”. Because despite significant advances in vehicle-related energy efficiency, safety, and information technology in recent decades, the focus is often still on enhancing one specific transportation technology that was invented a couple of centuries and a few contexts ago (the automobile).

Not to be misunderstood. There is nothing inherently wrong with tweaking. Or even continuing to use something without tweaking at all. For example, the fork, a technology dating back to Byzantine times is something many of us would not want to live without. If it ain’t broke why fix it? If it meets our needs, why not keep it? But there’s the rub – does it meet our needs? And if so in what contexts and in what forms?

On many levels tweaking cars is highly rational, given the sheer volume of single occupancy vehicles already on the road that might be much worse off (and make us much worse off) without these important improvements.

Tweaking cars is also rational or at least understandable within a culture of “automotive narcissism” (seeing all transportation through the lens of the windshield). Automotive narcissism is most prevalent in the regions that originally sprawled to accommodate and expand the personal auto back in the fifties and focused their infrastructure and industrial base to the exclusion of other options and opportunities. More recently a similar culture has begun to arise in emerging nations where newfound wealth has ironically enabled car-centric aspirations linked to a bygone era in a very different context.

Finally, tweaking is understandable given the increasing complexity of this urbanizing world. Transportation has always been challenging but it’s getting even more so with more people living in cities, less space, more congestion, climate change, more seniors, greater social disparity etcetera. Wanting to stick to what we know and what we think we can control and build on it within prescribed and predictable parameters is simply human nature.



In some regions and sectors however transportation is transforming rapidly. There is emerging evidence to suggest that the next generation (18 – 35 year olds) is preferring to use rather than own transportation modes, and they look to their gadgets and social networks to represent their status rather than the car that they own. There is also an evolution and sophistication of the transportation system to include a wider range of options that are more connected and interoperable and supported by real time information.

In this context, let’s get back to greenhouse gases. If we imagine the ways in which we would tackle greenhouse gases within the automotive (tweaking cars) paradigm, we might think of:


·         alternative fuels for vehicles

·         more efficient car engines

·         more efficient car design

·         sustainable materials

·         life-cycle manufacturing


But what If we expanded our focus, starting with the needs of the end user or the challenge rather than the particular technology or solution? What if access (meeting our needs) rather than mobility (moving) was the overarching goal, and what if transportation / access could meet many goals, not just greenhouse gas reduction? And what if we moved from single mode to whole system -- interconnected multi-modal, IT-supported customized door-to-door systems much like our portfolio of information options where desktop is seamlessly connected to laptop, smart phone, printer, camera, satellite etc? In making a paradigmatic shift from mode to whole system, and mobility to accessibility, we vastly expand our opportunities for cost-effective short and long term greenhouse gas reduction. Opportunities can then be taken up by a broader range of actors beyond the usual suspects representing not only government but also big business, entrepreneurs, VC’s, ngos, academe, and citizens. And our menu of options could include (and support, in terms of research, policy, intervention, and funding) the following:


·         IT infrastructure enabling

o    seamless multi-modal door to door travel (including single occupancy vehicles)

o    multi-modal journey planning and way finding providing multi-modal real time directions door to door

o    satellite / cloud-based multi-modal traffic management

o    integrated multi-modal fare payment

o    system-wide security systems

o    telework, telecommerce, tele-medicine and tele-education, providing access while eliminating trips altogether (teleworking one day a week reduces personal greenhouse gas emission by up to 20%

·         a range of “fractional use” services offering use rather than ownership of cars, bicycles, boats, and more

·         a range of customized and dynamic shuttle and taxi services filling in gaps in the system and meeting specific needs

·         land use, infrastructure, and urban design geared to accessibility and reducing trip length or the need for trips altogether, and increasing walkability

·         strategic partnerships among business, government, ngo’s and academe to support integrated system wide innovation for moving people, moving goods, and moving less

·         a vast range of enterprises geared to connected, multi-modal systems


Tweaking and Transforming Merge

It should be emphasized that tweaking and transforming are not mutually exclusive. In the end, it will be essential that they merge to support the widest set of integrated solutions that meet a range of current and future needs for people, for cities, and for the economy, including greenhouse gas reduction.

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Laurianne Krid

Policy Director

FIA Region I

Posted on: 30/01/2013

The targets, the setting of targets, for the internal combustion engine are needed and...


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Nicolas Etienne



Posted on: 31/01/2013

One of the major problems in the city center is the mobility problem, the traffic jam and so on combined with polluting vehicles...

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