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Consensus builds on fuel tech neutrality and multimodal approach as industry leaders debate ambitious decarbonisation plan
Global | Geneva

Consensus builds as industry leaders debate ambitious decarbonisation plan

28 Jun 2021 · Environment

Leading industry CEOs, regulators and international organisations have come together to kick off IRU’s 2050 Green Compact with an energetic online debate on key priorities and actions to deliver decarbonisation across the commercial road transport sector globally. 

Niclas Svenningsen from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change set the scene with a challenge on delivering significant progress already by 2030, in order to meet global climate targets by 2050. 

Speakers concurred on the need for an ambitious approach, with a strong consensus on what regulators need to get right in order to make this happen: using a well-to-wheel approach instead of a restricted tailpipe-only focus, making the most of all low and zero carbon fuel technologies, and looking at all modes together in infrastructure investments and operator incentives. 

The on-line debate followed the recent launch of IRU’s Green Compact, which sets out a roadmap for collective global action to achieve carbon neutrality in commercial road transport services by 2050. Participants from 69 countries, covering a wide range of sectors, joined the event.

With the countdown to COP26, the UN’s next major climate change conference in the UK in November, well underway, Niclas Svenningsen added, “The Green Compact is timely and the right way to go. It sets out a path and defines what needs to be done to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.”

Operator investments

Industry insiders agreed, stressing the importance of workable solutions and financial support from governments.

“We need the right targets, incentives and investments […] and we should be able to drive that as an industry.”

Jochen Thewes
CEO of DB Schenker

Thewes added, “Electro-mobility is part of the solution, but not the only solution. Sustainable production of biofuels is absolutely crucial as this is the most significant short-term impact we can make.”

Transport operators are already making significant investments in technology, with Siegfried Hegelmann, CEO of the Hegelmann Group, affirming that his company renews its fleet every two to three years. However, policymakers must consider operators’ needs. “We need more financial support to make this transition happen, not more regulatory pressure. More efficient operations with Eco-trucks is another good option to reduce CO2”, he said.

Regulatory certainty

Director of European Commission’s DG Climate Action, Yvon Slingenberg, confirmed that the Commission would be incentivising new technologies for decarbonisation and there would be support for all sectors, including transport, stressing that everyone has a role to play. 

On the EU’s upcoming Fit for 55 announcement, she said, “This package is to ensure there is legal certainty and predictability on how to decarbonise.” 

Gerrit Marx, chief of leading vehicle manufacturer IVECO, strongly supported technology neutrality. “It is important that all technologies remain on the table, from zero emission ones like H2 fuel cells to low emission fuels such as CNG and LNG, which will remain a viable solution to drive decarbonisation in the years to come and represent a bridge to the use of virtuous biofuels in transport, such as biomethane,” he said. 

Thomas Deloison, Mobility Director of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, welcomed the Green Compact and the important decarbonisation commitment made by the road transport industry. 

He stressed the need for behavioural change, adding that, “enabling multimodality, with the vehicle and with the infrastructure […] alongside the digital solutions that facilitate user acceptance and convenience of choice will be essential.”

Global ambitions

IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto wrapped up the event stressing the need for collective action between business and government worldwide. “The operators that we represent know best how to run transport services: we need to let them decide how to adapt their operations to decarbonise, based on pragmatic and balanced laws and incentives from regulators,” he added.

IRU will develop a detailed working programme and launch a global industry alliance in the coming months to support and deliver the Green Compact.

Sign up now to the Green Compact and join the industry on the road to decarbonisation. 

You can also watch the full debate again: