The transport sector currently accounts for 14% of global emissions of greenhouse gases and 25% in Europe. Calculations from the IEA (International Energy Agency) show that carbon dioxide emissions from the world's motor vehicles will double by 2050, compared to 2010.
At the same time, data from ICCT (the International Council on Clean Transportation) shows that the number of motor vehicles on the roads will have doubled to 2.8 billion globally by 2030 compared to 2010.
According to an EU study, the transport sector is the only sector within the EU where emissions have increased since 1990.
The aim of the UN's climate conference, which is taking place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December, is to reach an international agreement valid for all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the UN climate convention's (UNFCCC) objective of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
This implies that carbon dioxide emissions need to be cut by 60% by 2050 compared to 2010.
If that target is to be achieved, a change in the transport sector's environmental impact will thus play a crucial role.
Martin Prieto Beaulieu is press officer for the Swedish Association of Green Motorists. According to him, it is necessary to work in parallel with behaviour, fuel and vehicles to prevent the IEA's projected emissions increases for 2050 being realised.“Behaviour is the key issue in changing the environmental impact of vehicles. From filling up with the correct fuel and efficient driving to choosing other types of vehicle, electric bikes for example, or other transport services such as car pools and public transport. We have to change our habits, which is a major challenge, and we need to base ourselves on the varying conditions. If you live in a city then a car is no longer the best way to get around. There are too many cars on the roads, and public transport, electric bikes and various carsharing schemes exist which work for the vast majority of people who live in cities today. For those who live in the countryside, an emissions-free electric car, plug-in hybrid or biogas car can be a good alternative.“
”Long-term game rules”
According to Prieto Beaulieu, it is not sufficient to talk about more fuel-efficient petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles.“We need to shift to 100% renewables. At any rate, there will not be enough oil for everybody, and renewable fuels must be produced in larger volumes. The technology for zero-emissions cars is already available today. I don't view this as a technological challenge, rather a political one. Politicians must have the courage to set long-term game rules for the automotive and fuel industries. If, for example, millions are to be invested in production of biofuel, long-term policies are required.“
According to the ICCT, it is the growth economies such as China and India where there will be the largest increase in the number of motor-driven vehicles by 2050.
Martin Prieto Beaulieu feels that it is important that developing countries do not copy the Western world's way of life and mistakes.“Clearly, they should have, and are entitled to create, welfare states, but they don't need to copy our mistakes. Together we have to create a way of life where the car is not the primary symbol of prosperity.“
“I view mobility as a human right which should not be dependent on class. It should be easy to do the right thing. It is therefore important that services and business models are adapted to the new requirements; smart mobility. Today's information technology makes it possible, for example, to plan a trip without a car of your own by combining public transport with carsharing or a car pool. The most important thing must be to arrive at your destination with the minimum environmental impact.“