Our world today is largely built on the back of mobility. Global business, advanced healthcare, public education and much more rely on the constant movement of people and goods from place to place. We all depend on mobility, but unfortunately, all that movement negatively impacts our climate. Roughly one fifth of global CO2 emissions come from the transport sector. In some countries, including the US and UK, transportation creates more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than any other industry. Against this fact, it is understandable why many governments see regulating transportation as a significant part of setting and achieving climate-related goals.
Most of the regulation in question has to do with directly reducing emissions, and electric vehicles tend to dominate the conversation. At least 40 countries offer economic incentives to consumers and businesses who choose to purchase or use EVs. Norway, often viewed as the gold standard in transport electrification, plans to end the sale of all new combustion-powered vehicles by 2025.
Governments must cast a wider net - multiple solutions are needed
The takeaway is not that EVs are not a solution, rather that they are not the only solution. Electrification, hydrogen, and renewable fuels will all play a part in creating a steep emissions decline. Of these, renewable fuels can be most easily implemented without the need for infrastructure overhaul, allowing them to immediately jumpstart the decarbonisation drive at scale. Renewable fuels are especially important for achieving emissions reductions targets in transport sectors which have no realistic prospects of electrification in the near future, including aviation and heavy duty vehicles.
Crucially, we need each aspect of this multi-technology solution set to come into play as soon as possible, and governments have a key role in making that happen. Sourcing and distributing energy (#renewable or otherwise) is an expensive process, so the degree to which producers and investors embrace new ways of doing it will directly reflect their confidence in governmental support. Thus, when governments demonstrate a willingness to promote sustainable technologies across the board, production and uptake of those technologies will increase.
In order for countries to reach their emissions targets, government leaders must adopt a wide and technology neutral approach to solving challenges in transportation. Sustainable mobility is possible, but it will not come in a single form.
The world is moving steadily toward lower-emissions mobility
The Paris Agreement, the European Commission’s Fit for 55 legislation package, and numerous countries’ plans to become carbon neutral in the coming decades all represent the type of ambitious yet achievable goals that world leaders are tasked with making in order to overcome the current climate crisis.
The reality, however, is that we need to move faster. We will need to reduce emissions in all sectors: land, air and sea, in all industries and areas of life.
Although transportation continues to present a major challenge, many opportunities exist for the sector to provide reductions in GHG emissions. All sustainable solutions should be explored, and all effective methodologies welcomed with open arms by businesses and governments alike. Through ongoing innovation, investment, and cooperation, the creation of a global system of sustainable transport is entirely possible. As I have chosen to be a stubborn optimist, I believe the future of mobility is sustainable and bright.
You can read more about #SustainableMobility here.