To achieve the goals of the Paris agreement and transition to a Circular, Lean, Inclusive, Clean (CLIC™) model, total greenhouse gases (GHG) must fall by 7.6% per annum until 2030 and transport emissions practically need to halve by 2050.1 This requires decoupling emissions growth from the increasing demands for the mobility of people and goods, which will be vital for future economic growth.

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There is a transport revolution underway. This revolution represents significant investment opportunities and a way to build a more resilient, sustainable society

Cleaner modes of transport are already emerging. The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is one such example. EV penetration is reaching a tipping point and technological improvements means that life-cycle emissions are now lower for electric vehicles than combustion engines. There is certainly more work to do in terms of “greener” battery recycling and zero emissions electricity but technology is enabling great advances. Micro-vehicles are on the rise in conjunction with Mobility-as-a-Service, as seen with car-pooling, ride sharing, and increased encouragement of seamlessly integrated public-private transport systems. Soft mobility or micro-mobility such as bicycle schemes and scooters enable people to move around cities efficiently whilst offering decarbonisation benefits. Railways, pooled mobility, and micro mobility options can reduce the carbon footprint of a journey by 90%3 and it is vital that cities adapt to this new way of getting around.

Railways, pooled mobility, and micro mobility options can reduce the carbon footprint of a journey by 90% and it is vital that cities adapt to this new way of getting around

In future cities, less space needs to be devoted to cars. Redesign of urban spaces away from the current car-centric model to cater to other, more sustainable forms of shared mobility can free up valuable space. The removal of parking spots and road simplification may increase developable areas in city centres by 15-20%.4 Increasing bicycle lanes, making pedestrianised roads the new normal and promoting shuttle transport will certainly transform how we move around our cities.

We need to build urban centres with green construction practices in place that include energy-saving measures, such as insulation, solar energy, efficient lighting and heating, and the use of energy storage solutions

Around 60% of the urban environment that will host the world’s population by 2050 is yet to be constructed.5 Thus, we need to create smart cities. Cities that are resilient not just in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of flooding and extreme water. We need to build urban centres with green construction practices in place that include energy-saving measures, such as insulation, solar energy, efficient lighting and heating, and the use of energy storage solutions. This will radically reduce energy footprints. In short, urban planners should focus on climate adaptability, energy efficiency, and the promotion of sharing business models.

Electrification may be sufficient to decarbonise short-haul transport but we must rethink long-haul to decarboniseharder-to-abate, long distance and heavy-duty transport. Heavy-duty transport accounts for half of all transport-related emissions. The culprits being:

road

29%

aviation

12%

shipping

11%

rail freight

1%6

For short-haul aviation, innovation in vehicle design (such as blended wing design) and vehicle electrification are making decarbonisation increasingly possible. But in order to keep trade flowing and international supply chains uninterrupted, long-haul transport growth is vital for future economic growth.

Alternative energy sources such as hydrogen, synfuels and sustainable biofuels appear to be solutions for many long-distance trips and require significant infrastructure and technology advancement to bring to market. Hydrogen, for instance, is a promising technology for both the rail sector and shipping. Hydrogen heavy-duty trucks are soon to hit the roads whilst hydrogen trains are already running in Europe. The aviation industry poses significant challenges. For long-haul aviation, technology developments are needed to decarbonise using sustainable fuels, which should increase rapidly over the next few years.

Regulators certainly have a big role to play in driving greener long-haul transport innovation. A greater focus on lifecycle emissions and circularity in vehicle production and usage – material efficiencies, battery reuse and recycling, vehicle-to-grid – will allow transport to dematerialise, reduce waste, improve resource efficiency, cut emissions, and support a growing urban population. Furthermore, there is an overarching enabler that is deeply embedded in this revolution – digitalisation. It will allow for seamlessly integrated transport eco-systems, enable remote working, and generate multiple investment opportunities in zero-emission technologies and mobility-as-a-service.

Mobility is a vital cog in our future economic development. However, future mobility needs to be equitable, resilient, cost-effective, and clean. Ultimately, the complex task of transition requires alignment between international agendas, national policies, local implementation and private sector solutions.

At every level, it is best to invest now – to avoid future losses, maximise the opportunities to reap the benefits of green growth and transition to a CLIC™ economy.

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See PDF “CLIC™” Mobility: A climate Transition for Transport in a post-COVID world
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