Towards a cleaner society – A boilerplate for transition?

Tallinn, Estonia – According to the European Commission, the transport sector represents almost 25% of Europe’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. GHG emissions from the transport sector have more than doubled since 1970. The European Union has set the target to reduce CO2 emissions from transport by 60% by 2050.

Lowering emissions in the transport sector is a very big challenge globally and achieving low-emission mobility needs very serious decisions. At the same time, the European Commission expects that oil products will still represent about 90% of the EU transport sector needs in 2030 and 86% in 2050. How can these ambitions and the reality be reconciled?

In this context,  World Energy Council Estonia and the voice of Europe’s Independent Fuel  Suppliers, UPEI, held an International Fuel conference ‘Towards a Cleaner – A Boiler plate for the Transition?’ in Tallinn, Estonia on 23 March. The conference focused on global transport scenarios, developments in transport fuels and powertrains in connection with potential changes to the global oil market. It addressed the biofuels debate and encouraged an honest discussion.

The potential of alternative fuels such as hydrogen was also examined to determine if this is a dream or plausible reality. The conference also looked at the refining industry and how it can contribute to a sustainable future for transport, addressing the dual challenge of GHG emissions and air quality.

The conference brought together European fuel suppliers and companies from the transport and energy sector and delegates interested in the fuel market and the future of transport fuels. Considering the challenges in decarbonising the transport sector the organisers of the conference offered an honest discussion regarding the oil sector’s contribution towards a cleaner society.

The challenge of reducing air pollution and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions is one that the oil sector has been engaged in for some time and takes seriously. Participants debated: Is enough being done? Is the potential of the sector to contribute being fully tapped? How can the oil sector work with others to address this challenge most effectively? The oil and transport sectors have already adapted to address the challenges of security of supply, competitiveness and climate change. What more needs to be done and what can we realistically expect in the next 10 – 20 years?

Einari Kisel, Regional manager for Europe, World Energy Council, presented the Council’s Energy Scenarios with an emphasis on transport. Mr Kisel highlighted that transitioning global transport forms one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in an effort to decarbonise future energy systems. The three scenarios developed are Modern Jazz, which represents a ‘digitally disrupted,’ innovative, and market-driven world, Unfinished Symphony, a world in which more ‘intelligent’ and sustainable economic growth models emerge as the world drives to a low carbon future, and a more fragmented scenario called Hard Rock, which explores the consequences of weaker and unsustainable economic growth with inward-looking policies.

In a Modern Jazz world, where increasing digitalisation spurs economic growth, electric vehicles will make up 26% of the total number of cars by 2060. Under the Unfinished Symphony Scenario a world in which C02 emissions are decreased, the total number of electric vehicles will make up 32% of a total of 2.8 billion cars. In a Hard Rock world of slow economic growth, electric vehicles will make up just 9% of a total of 2.9 billion cars.