With the Paris climate agreement in force, the EU is more than ever committed to a global transition towards a low carbon economy. Local and regional leaders have a key role in cutting carbon emissions by upgrading our transport systems making them cleaner, more energy efficient and more sustainable.

Low-emission mobility brings significant benefits to our citizens whilst strengthening innovation and competitiveness of our industry. We therefore all need to support zero-emission transportation as the most effective and efficient form of public mobility in our regions and cities.

Through their combined efforts the signatories of the “Declaration of intent on promoting large-scale deployment of clean, alternatively fuelled buses in Europe” are committed to make the transition to clean, alternatively fuelled happen.

Decarbonising transport is a core theme of the EU 2020 strategy. The long-term objective of the European Union on CO2 emissions is an overall reduction of 80-95% by 2050. Oil, the main energy source for transport overall, supplying nearly 100% of road transport fuels, is currently expected to reach depletion on the 2050 perspective. Substitution of oil, therefore, needs to start as soon as possible and increase rapidly to compensate for declining oil production, which is expected to reach a peak within this decade.

Climate protection and security of energy supply both lead to the requirement of building up an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply to transport on the time horizon of 2050.

Transportation is the leading source of climate change pollution, but cleaner cars, cleaner fuels, better transit and more sustainable planning present huge opportunities to reduce pollution while creating jobs and economic development. The Midwest is at the crossroads of the nation’s rail, road and air traffic and can be central to a sustainable future with clean transportation. Electric vehicles are the next generation clean cars — with smart strategies and the right locations, these vehicles present an exciting opportunity to reduce air pollution, save drivers up to $1,200 per year on gasoline, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In 2030, the number of motor vehicles on the world’s roads will be roughly double what it was in 2010: about 2.8 billion cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. CO2 emissions from commercial aircraft are on a pace to triple by 2050, as both passenger air travel and air freight surge worldwide. Maritime shipping is also an increasingly significant source of greenhouse gas  emissions and local air pollution: fine particulate emissions from shipping are linked to approximately 60,000 premature deaths worldwide annually, and marine CO2 emissions could rise to 17% of all anthropogenic emissions in 2050 if left unchecked. Without forceful policies to improve the energy efficiency of and minimize pollutant emissions in the transportation sector, the consequences of such explosive growth for local air quality and public health, and for the global climate, will be dire.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector are growing faster than those from any other sector. With the transportation sector already accounting for nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, investing in public transportation is a critical strategy to address global climate change.

Strategies to curb transport emissions, such as by transitioning to electric vehicles, depend primarily on pushing forward new efficiency-maximizing technologies for transportation networks and individual vehicles. Yet adoption rates have been slow, in part because vehicle owners and transportation providers lack the resources to finance the transition of their fleets.

Four unexpected champions of the clean transportation revolution include:

  1. Electricity producers and distributors
  2. Municipal governments
  3. National finance policymakers
  4. Environmental and climate poilcymakers

With carbon footprints becoming more important in infrastructure development, the transportation sector is doing its part around the world to make a difference. Train travel and other alternatives to gasoline cars have come to the forefront. Trains are much more efficient and less polluting than motor vehicles. Electric trains are between 50 to 75 percent less polluting than passenger cars and trucks and use comparably less energy per passenger-mile.

The White Paper on Transport of 28 March 2011 puts forward concrete initiatives for the next decade that will dramatically reduce Europe’s dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050. It takes a comprehensive approach by proposing, in particular, the development of a sustainable alternative fuels strategy, including the appropriate infrastructure.
Climate protection and security of energy supply both lead to the requirement of building up an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply to transport on the time horizon of 2050.
A long-term strategy should be developed, aiming to fully meet the energy demand of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050. The objective of the Clean Transport Systems (CTS) initiative is to present a consistent long-term alternative fuel strategy and possible measures to take in the short and medium-term.

Today, transport still relies on oil for 94% of its energy needs. Europe imports around 87% of its crude oil and oil products from abroad, with a crude oil import bill estimated at around €187 billion in 2055, and additional costs to the environment.