Each year, the European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW), the European Commission’s flagship event, brings together public authorities, private companies, NGOs and consumers to promote initiatives that save energy and a move towards renewables for clean, secure and efficient power. With the theme ‘Shaping Europe’s Energy Future’, this year’s event also focused on mobility and how this can become more sustainable and energy efficient.
International stakeholders gathered in Brussels to bring their solutions forward and identify the existing gaps, which still make transport one of the main causes of pollution. Regulation, technology and Europe were the buzz words on which each participant expressed an opinion. How can we strengthen the synergies between the energy, digital and transport sectors to help achieve the goals of a sustainable energy policy and decarbonisation across sectors maintaining Europe’s global leadership?
At the event, Jacob Bangsgaard ERTICO CEO, in the session “Transport, Energy and Digitalisation: City and Industry Views” revealed how smart mobility solutions are currently making transport more sustainable. Together with Orgalim, Eurocities and UNIDO, Mr Bangsgaard took part in a panel discussion to present the topic from the point of view of policy makers, industry, the private sector and cities.
Discussion kicked off with MEP Henna Virkkunen, from the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) who gave an overview of the European Parliament’s work on climate change and infrastructure. “The task of EU politicians is to make sure that regulation and financing are innovation friendly”, said MEP Virkkunen. Ms. Virkkunen stressed the importance of funding to create more synergies between digitalisation, energy and transport infrastructure, and to bring forward projects that can offer and promote alternatives to fossil fuels and enhance energy storage, smart grids, 5G networks, autonomous transport, new and existing infrastructure. In this framework, regulation was seen as another key point. Thanks to a common European regulation, in fact, Europe could encourage innovation and lay the ground for companies to successfully test new technologies and invest in new solutions, becoming a leader in the energy and transport fields.
Cassandra Pillay, Climate Change Expert at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) continued the discussion explaining how it is essential for the United Nations and the European Union to continue to collaborate with stakeholders on reducing emissions generated by the industry, stressing the need to focus on countries where industrialisation is still the only source of income.
From policy to business, panellists Malte Lohan, Director General of Orgalim and Thomas Meißner, from the Berlin Agency for Electromobility (eMO) both see technology as a key factor to address the toughest challenges in today’s society, such as climate change, mobility and life in cities. In their view, innovation should be seen as an opportunity and not a burden.
Dorthe Nielsen, Policy Director of EUROCITIES proved that there are also numerous, alternative ways in which transport can become more sustainable, especially in European cities and urban areas, which account for most of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions. According to Ms. Nielsen, promoting multimodality, creating low emission zones, restricting access to vehicles in cities and reinforcing walking and cycling are some of the many solutions that can reduce the impact of transport on the environment. Together with best practice and legislation, infrastructure is another key aspect to act upon, as well as automation, data sharing to improve traffic conditions and the roll out of alternative fuel infrastructure in urban areas (e.g. charging infrastructure).
Gathering different stakeholders brought to light very important common ideas, to which all parties are committed and wish to reinforce: the importance of collaboration between the public and private sector. In this regard, ERTICO was given the floor to illustrate its action towards achieving these transport and environmental goals.
“ERTICO has been working for many years on these challenges, which cannot be solved by only a few sectors. This is why as a public-private partnership, ERTICO is committed to bring the many sectors together and to work on new mobility solutions for better, safer and cleaner transport”, said Mr. Bangsgaard, who also focused on the important role that ITS plays in this debate. “At ERTICO we have proven that by deploying ITS solutions there is an environmental gain in the whole mobility system, reducing congestions and emissions and providing new integrated solutions, which optimise the usage of the existing infrastructure and the available capacity in the existing mode. We are also working on policy aspects concerning transportation to secure the framework conditions for all players to develop new systems and services. In respect to future challenges concerning mobility and new technologies, it is clear that infrastructure, both digital and physical, is key, as well as cooperation between stakeholders.”
This panel discussion makes it clear that there is currently a united front amongst stakeholders when it comes to climate change and the role that transport and technology plays. It is also clear that organisations like ERTICO play a fundamental part in putting technology and collaboration at the heart of sustainability and facilitating the implementation of the Paris agreement on climate change.
Click here to view the photos of the session.
Photo credits: ©European Union, 2019