Linking transport CO2 reduction actions with national decarbonisation pathways
Which mitigation actions in the transport sector can most effectively support national decarbonisation pathways? Transport is the second-highest emitting sector and contributes 24% of energy-related CO2 emissions, as ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim reminded participants at an official side event on COP25’s “Transport Day” on 6 December. While full decarbonisation of transport also hinges on successes in other sectors – notably energy – transport itself can do more to put into place measures that make a difference.
A catalogue of measures that are known to be effective will be launched by the International Transport Forum at the Annual Summit of Transport Ministers in May 2020. It contains almost 100 measures that transport decision-makers can draw upon to effect positive change. While 81% of NDCs mention transport, only 10% include targets, noted Jari Kauppila, Head of Quantitative Analysis and Foresight at the ITF. The catalogue of measures can serve to translate mere ambitions into actionable measures.
The critical element is to not only innovate, but to implement innovations, emphasised Pedro Saura García, Spain’s Secretary of State of infrastructure, Transport and Housing. The Spanish government is employing three main levers. It aims to align governance around the objective of decarbonisation, federate research and development across sectors in pursuit of this goal, and enhance adaptation to improve the resilience of infrastructure to climate change.
Sweden is implementing a comprehensive governance framework for its climate policy, as Mattias Frumerie, Head of Sweden’s COP25 Delegation, explained. The Swedish Climate Policy Framework was agreed by all parties and enacted in 2019. Government policy must be based on the national climate goals, which aim to make Sweden the world’s first fossil-fuel-free welfare state. An annual Climate Report is debated in parliament every September and the government is required to outline its climate actions for the next four years in a Climate Policy Action Plan. The first plan is currently being finalised.
By 2045, Sweden wants to reach zero net emissions, and negative net CO2 emissions after that. For transport, the goal is to cut CO2 by 70% to 2030 compared to 2010, excluding aviation. Sweden prioritises three areas of action: Firstly, creating a “transport-efficient society” by reducing travel without reducing accessibility – for instance by supporting municipalities to implement sustainable mobility solutions, or an ”eco-bonus” for goods transport that is transferred from roads to rail or ship.
A second priority is the transition to sustainable biofuels: Fuel distributors are now required by law to add biofuels to their mix to reduce CO2 emissions of their products. Thirdly, the country will build a “permanent electric road system” and invest into closing gaps in electric charging infrastructure. Fuel-efficient vehicles are the third priority, underpinned, inter alia, by a bonus-malus system that puts high taxes on high-emission vehicles while offering tax credits for low-carbon vehicles.
Contributions by Nancy Aura Manríquez Donoso, from Chile's Ministry of Environment, Morocco’s Ministry of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water and from private sector stakeholders complemented the discussion.
Photo: Mary Crass, Head of Institutional Relations and Summit at the ITF, moderates the side event.