Global decarbonization starts with innovations in transport technology

Posted on 14 October 2013

The number of cars worldwide is expected to double to 2.6 billion vehicles by 2050.

With that will inevitably come a rise in CO2 emissions. To avert this increase in atmospheric pollution, governments and the automotive industry must find ways to decarbonize the transportation sector. New technologies can help cut transport emissions, which now account for 23% of global CO2 emissions, with 40% of that coming from passenger cars alone.

The problem is that “at the moment, there is no real alternative to petrol”, said Olivier Appert, Chairman & CEO of France’s IFP Energies Nouvelles. Designing smaller, fuel-efficient engines and improving alternative sources of energy, such as biofuel technology, are the two key ways that he believes will most effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Jerome Ferrier, President of the France-based International Gas Union (IGU), agreed that other sources of fuel should be sought, but he proposed using cleaner fossil fuels, in particular LNG or other non-petrol based fuels. “Natural gas is not a game changer” but will lead to CO2 reduction in the transportation sector. Ferrier sees progress in estimates that by 2015, 40 million vehicles worldwide will run on natural gas, but notes that that is still only 5% of all units on the road.

Still, some law-makers say to combat climate change, the best solution is to have more vehicles run on renewable resources. “Electric engines are the most efficient vehicles”, said Martine Ouellet, Minister of Natural Resources of Québec, who explained that her province has enacted a series of policies in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

This news story is based on the What does It Take? session, “Future of transport: Decarbonizing growth”,  at the 2013 World Energy Congress.