Sustainable solutions

2nd Edition of the Truck&Bus World Forum: Worldwide top executives address forward-looking strategies related to ‘Sustainable Transport in the Global Economy’ 8-9 December 2008, Göteborg, Sweden

In 1850, the earth’s atmosphere contained 270 ppmv (parts per million in volume) of CO2. It now contains 380, with a documented increase of almost two ppmv per year. This increase is accelerating and may exceed three ppmv per year in the years ahead. Scientists from all over the world are speaking out, and particularly through the reports of the IPCC, agree that the threshold of 500 ppmv will be reached before 2050, with an average increase in the earth’s temperatures which could be between 1.4 and 5.8oC by 2100.
Nicolas Stern – former Chief Economist at the World Bank – presented a report to Tony Blair in October 2007 that announced a provisional cost for climate change of the order of €5.5 trillion over the next century, which is more than the cost of the two World Wars and the Depression of 1929 combined.
In order to stabilise the planet’s climate we will need to reduce CO2 emissions 4-fold by 2050. This, now referred to as ‘Factor 4’ implies getting back to emission levels of CO2 of 1945, whilst the number of kilometres travelled has increased 10-fold, the modal part of public transport has been divided by 5, and that the proportion of transport’s contribution to CO2 emissions by man was just a few per cent in 1945, against 25 per cent today. At the same time, our modern economic model is a big consumer of mobility: one per cent of economic growth results in an increase of approximately one per cent in the number of kilometres travelled. As a result, goods transport distances increased by 240 per cent between 1970 and 2005.
This ambitious pollutant emission reduction objective is, at the same time, highly penalised by our global consumption of fossil fuels which is increasing very rapidly - going in the opposite direction to what is recommended. According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), global energy consumption will increase from 9.2 billion tons of oil equivalent (TOE) in 2000 to 15.3 billion in 2030. We should note here that over 80 per cent of our primary energy comes from oil, coal and gas.
As a result of increasing transport needs, city congestion is getting worse; having for instance a negative impact of one per cent on the European Union GDP.
Public authorities, manufacturers, road users and more generally, all those involved in merchandise transport systems and public transport must work together to reduce pollutant emissions and decrease city congestion.
The Truck&Bus World Forum has been created in that context; to gather professionals and decision makers in an open international forum to exchange cutting-edge strategies and technical information, address industry issues and challenges to develop sound business solutions to keep on developing better transport solutions for a better life. The first edition of the forum was held in Lyon in December 2007. The event was the first of what would become a recurring annual event with focus on commercial transport. The initiative stems from both the Western Götaland region in Sweden along with the Rhône-Alpes region in France. The forum is to be held alternately in Lyon and Göteborg.
The Truck&Bus World Forum in Lyon was extremely successful with approximately 440 participants from around the globe, including 12 truck and bus manufacturers. The conference program highlighted transport issues from various perspectives with a global focus, presented by speakers from Europe, the USA and Asia. After the forum, a first ‘White Book’ has been released, highlighting the key issues that have been raised during the forum.
This year Automotive Sweden is the principle organiser of the Truck&Bus World Forum to be held on 8-9 December at the Svenska Mässan in Göteborg. The topic sub-headlining this year’s Forum is ‘Sustainable Transport in the Global Economy’. The event will have a major element of well-reputed speakers from around the world, which in the form of presenters and through panel discussions will highlight the importance of commercial transport in the global economy and the threats and possibilities the branch will face in the future. Representatives from the following companies will take part into this second edition: Volvo AB, Scania, Daimler AG, SKF, US Environmental Protection Agency, International Transport Road Union, Financial Times, Society of Automotive Engineers, ACEA, CLEPA.
The second edition of the Truck & Bus World Forum will address the three following topics: ‘Energy cost as the key driver for tomorrow's transport’; ‘Energy efficiency one cornerstone for sustainability’; and ‘Impacts of infrastructure charging on accessibility and transport flow;. It will thus continue addressing the issues raised in 2007.
As a matter of fact, we need for instance to continue to communicate on the impact of CO2, the impact of climate change and the benefits of public transport, backed up by the science. The media battle seems to have been won in Europe. The same does not apply worldwide.
At European level, we need to go beyond the stage of simple promotion and identification and switch to a deployment policy of the choices made. It is absolutely vital to limit the diversity of solutions available, so as to make a success of the ‘organised town’ approach.
Strategies can only come out of a systemic approach engaging all relevant participants in a spirit of consensus on environmental issues. In the same way, we need to bear in mind that only economies of scale will allow the best technologies to have a real impact at world level. Indeed, even the best technologies, if marginal, will not allow us to meet the challenges we now face.
As for urban mobility policies, these must be completely voluntary so as to implement best practice as broadly as possible. These practices will have to apply not only to economic and political actors, but also to users and consumers who will be required to re-think the way they travel and consume; there’s still a long way to go!
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