Next year’s ITS European Congress will become the continent’s first mobility conference ever to offset all carbon emissions related to the event.  Organisers ERTICO – ITS Europe are working with Belgian firm CO2Logic to calculate the carbon footprint caused by the travel to and from the congress in May 2020, as well as emissions generated by staging it.

The pledge coincides with Lisbon being named European Green Capital 2020 in recognition of its record on environmental improvements.  These include a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions between 2002 and 2014, a clear sustainable mobility strategy, and the introduction of a large electric vehicle charging network with excellent public transport services, which serve nine out of ten people with a stop within 300 metres of their home.

“We have not just woken up and thought ‘we will be carbon neutral’.  This is a natural next step for our organisation,” explained ERTICO Congress Director and CFO Didier Gorteman.  “For a long time we have been encouraging sustainable transport and green mobility as themes of our congresses and we have always tried to be more sustainable, to reduce emissions, consumption and waste.  As the congress grows and participants increase, we have to be conscious of what is happening so this is why we are going a step further towards a CO2-neutral event.”

“We will pay to off-set the CO2 emitted – by planting trees in Brazil.  We are also looking to supply eco-friendly cooking stoves for people in Africa to help them reduce their own emissions.”

CO2Logic has audited previous ITS European Congresses to estimate their carbon footprint, which has given ERTICO a realistic idea of the cost of off-setting the emissions created in 2020.  The initiative will be funded out of sponsorship revenue at the event.

One sponsor, Portuguese company Armis ITS from Porto is getting behind the off-setting programme.  Chief Strategy Officer Pedro Barradas explains, “With Lisbon’s record of leading environmental improvements, it wouldn’t make sense to have a big ITS congress with 3,000 people flying in and flying back home and leaving a large carbon footprint, and not taking that into consideration.  So, when ERTICO approached me to figure out how we can mitigate and compensate I wanted to be engaged and as a result my company is supporting ways to sponsor the measures.  We believe it’s the first ever mobility congress to be carbon-neutral, but I hope it’s the first of many.  We have had good feedback and also interest from other congresses and organisations who want to follow our initiative

“We in the transport sector need to embrace social responsibility and therefore the ITS Congress has a huge responsibility to communicate the carbon-neutral sustainable message.  All credit to ERTICO in the work it is doing and will continue to do.”

ERTICO’s current environmentally-responsible work includes projects on electromobility, Mobility as a Service and making freight greener by making truck movements more efficient.

Zeljko Jeftic, Deputy Director – Innovation & Deployment at ERTICO, says, “As a part of our carbon reduction efforts we are  launching a project called Solutions+ with a number of other partners looking into how to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in cities around the world. We are also working on making freight more efficient in Europe and we have just launched a €60m project called FENIX, to create interoperability between existing freight platforms.

“As a yet another example of our work in increased sustainability we run a project called MODALES, (worth over 5m euro) where we are not only measuring the exhaust from the tailpipe of trucks or cars, but also analysing how much pollution and particulates we cause by using our brakes – from tyres and the road surface – while what we are doing with Mobility as a Service is linking all our existing activities with fantastic MaaS solutions.”

As well as offsetting the carbon created by people travelling to and by attending the Lisbon Congress, many of the discussions and demonstrations in Lisbon will concentrate on environmentally friendly intelligent transport solutions.  The Congress theme is “ITS: The Game Changer” and will discuss and promote the development of smart mobility services.

ERTICO is looking for more companies like Armis to support this initiative through sponsorship, with Pedro Barradas calling for public and private sector support in order to be able to say at the end of the Congress, “It has been a pleasure to receive you in Lisbon and you can return home in the knowledge that the carbon footprint you leave will be compensated in a different continent with measures that improve local populations’ quality of life, whilst contributing to the welfare of the planet.”