The Nordics seek to green the transport sector

State Secretary - Photo: Simon Johannsson, Norwegian EU delegation

Can land freight be decarbonized by 2050? Over 100 participants discussed policy and technology options at a Nordic Council of Ministers event in Brussels on 27 September.

– It is clear that we have no choice but to decarbonize transport. Reaching our climate goals will depend directly on our ability to make transport greener, whilst ensuring mobility for our citizens and in the economy, said Norwegian State Secretary Lars Andreas Lunde in his opening remarks.

The transport sector currently accounts for more than 26% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, with a quarter coming from heavy-duty vehicles.

What can contribute most?

With funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers, NGO Transport & Environment earlier this year prepared a Roadmap to climate-friendly land freight and buses in Europe. The study concludes that it is fully possible to decarbonize road freight and buses by 2050 – both in the EU and in the Nordic countries. It also assesses a number of possible methods to achieve this goal.

Over 100 participants gathered at Norway House in Brussels to discuss which technology and policy options can contribute most towards reaching our climate targets.

T&E manager Carlos Calvo Ambel presented key points from the study, followed by two panels and substantial Q&A sessions.

Representatives from Norway, Germany and the EU, as well as researchers and industry (BYD Europe, Hydrogenics, Siemens) took part.

See the full program and list of panelists.

The cost of delay

– The transition will be more difficult the longer we wait. It will be easier and cheaper to make the changes we need to move forward now, said Swedish MEP Jakob Dalunde (Greens).

Dalunde pointed to different measures including enhanced efficiency in the transport sector and incentives to change to low emission solutions. He also argued for a shift from trucks to rail transport, and from trucks to small cars within cities.

– We have to invest more, but we cannot only use taxpayers’ money to do this. The polluter needs to pay, said Dalunde.

A Nordic priority

Nordic environment ministers discussed transport at a meeting in Oslo in May 2017 and agreed on some key messages to the EU. In a letter to the European Commission, the Nordic countries urge the EU to propose ambitious new CO2 standards for cars and vans after 2020, introduce performance standards for heavy-duty vehicles and develop robust measurement systems.

– Countries such as Canada, China, Japan and the US have already implemented fuel efficiency standards for trucks, and we believe that the EU should follow suit, said State Secretary Lunde.

In Norway, new government targets seek to have all new passenger cars and light vans sold in 2025 be zero-emission vehicles. All new urban buses sold in 2025 shall be zero emitters or use biogas, and by 2030, all new heavy-duty vehicles, 75% of new long distance coaches and 50% of new trucks shall be zero emission vehicles.

See more pictures from the event on Flickr.

Tweets from the event.