Plans in the transport sector are still pending, but Bonne is expecting “a smart and sustainable transport strategy which will probably have a lot of impact because one of the things they will look into are emission standards. They will also take measures to generate a modal shift to inland waterways and rail. They have also announced a review of the framework for alternative fuels and connected infrastructure, e.g. it is foreseen that one million additional charging and fuelling points will be needed in the European Union by 2025.”
Pim Bonne concludes: “All upcoming strategies cannot be seen as standalone initiatives. The sustainable transport strategy will have links to the climate adaptation strategy and vice versa.” More information about the two strategies is expected by the end of this year or in the beginning of 2021.
Alongside the EU policy trends, numerous national, regional and local initiatives also seek to reduce urban transport emissions. Bonne: “A lot of cities have introduced low-emission zones that promote the soft mobility modes like walking and cycling. And cities are looking into electric or hydrogen public transport. It is not only the Commission making things happen and implementing initiatives top down – there are also a lot of things coming bottom up.”
Is there a recipe for decarbonising transport?
Pim Bonne says: “Even though things are going in the right direction with the Green Deal and the initiatives on various levels, there is no one size fits all approach, especially with regard to new trends such as electrification, hydrogen, shared mobility and automation.”
Low carbon and zero emission are leading the new developments, so Pim Bonne currently sees electrification and hydrogen as very promising, but for hydrogen the supply chain is not established yet. At the same time, transitional fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) will continue to play an important role for freight transport; they are fossil but cleaner than traditional fuels.
“We should avoid a technological lock-in where we focus just on one technology or a few,” argues Bonne. “If for whatever reason the chosen solution does not work out, then you have invested quite a lot in only one kind of fuelling or charging infrastructure. It needs to be a healthy mix. Shared mobility and automation can also play a role.”
He pauses before adding, “However, we are again facing the difficulty to change the individual behaviour. The need for transport must change drastically. It is not only about clever new ideas, like cycling stations next to train stations or building the necessary infrastructure. It is also about how people organise themselves and their mobility needs. Although the concept of Mobility as a Service is still developing, the actual global implementation and use for everyday transport will be an important factor in guiding the people in that behavioural switch. The cost of new mobility alternatives and the trust of people in new technologies are equally important here. For the latter, smaller projects and test beds like those funded by the North Sea Region Programme are very relevant.”