The European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC) has called on leaders at COP26 to curb motorised transport by introducing strong policies to boost active travel.
According to a recent EASAC report, technology alone cannot do the job of drastically curbing the 25% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the EU for which transport is responsible.
It says the missing links to this are strong policies to encourage not only accelerated technology shifts but also paradigm changes in behaviour.
Prof. George Giannopoulos, member of EASAC’s Transport Working Group, said: “One option that policymakers must urgently put on the table is avoiding and containing the demand for motorized transport.”
William Gillett, EASAC’s energy programme director, said that European policies in the transport sector focus on promoting low-carbon fuels or electric cars.
However, he says these efforts are counteracted by the ever-growing popularity of heavier cars with more powerful motors.
He said: “This trend is offsetting all fuel-efficiency improvements and the effect of an increased share of electric vehicles.
“In 2020 sales of fuel-hungry SUVs grew to a whopping 42% of the global car market.
“Even equipping these with electric powertrains would not solve the problem: The production of bigger cars has a much heavier impact on resources, and they require significantly more battery power. We have to go for a much broader set of regulations and incentives.”
In a joint event at the European Commission’s digital pavilion during COP26, European scientists and researchers, together with technology developers and industry pioneers, will present and discuss challenges as well as policies and regulations that could help close the gap between targets and actual transport emission trends.
The European science academies will address the potential for reducing GHG emissions by avoiding road transport, shifting passengers and freight onto more sustainable means of transport, and improving the emissions performance of road vehicles.
The zero-emission transport day at COP26 will be held on November 10 and will include exhibitions and events.
- The EASC transport event is being held on November 12 at 1pm and registration is open now.