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The Davos of Transport


In late May, the International Transport Forum (ITF), a Paris-based intergovernmental organization affiliated with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), hosted its annual summit in Leipzig, Germany. Canadian Shipper was selected as one of a handful of international media outlets invited to take part, giving us access to the full event.

The 2019 summit on “Transport Connectivity for Regional Integration” hosted more than 1,000 registered participants from 70 countries. Tunisia joined the organization, bringing the number of ITF member countries to 60 and reinforcing the global nature of the organization. “Tunisia aspires to become a regional economic hub and a Mediterranean centre for trade and services,” said Hichem Ben Ahmed, Tunisia’s Minister of Transport.

“Transport is connecting the world, and we are connecting the people who make that happen,” said ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim.

“The Leipzig Summit is all about global dialogue for better transport. Today, policy makers must set guidelines in the face of fast, profound, often disruptive change.”

“To meet the challenge, listening to others, learning from their experiences, sharing one’s own successes and failures is of enormous value. Transport connectivity will improve by understanding how to harness digital connectivity, but also by connecting minds. That’s what we do at ITF and at the Summit.”

During this years’ Summit, the ITF launched a common Ministerial Declaration on Transport Connectivity for Regional Integration. The ministers responsible for transport in the member countries of the International Transport Forum, declared that that “safe, secure, economically-efficient, and well-connected transport plays an important role in facilitating individual mobility and trade flows, both of which are essential for the sustainable development of regions.”

The following reports highlight just some of the many sessions and meetings that took place over the three-day summit.

Michael Kloth (Head of Communications, International Transport Forum) and the media team during the Gala Dinner at the International Transport Forum’s 2019 Summit on “Transport Connectivity for Regional Integration” in Leipzig, Germany, on 23 May 2019.

 

Connecting the Dots

Transport demand is set to triple, but sector faces potential disruptions

Global demand for transport will continue to grow dramatically over the next three decades. But potential disruptions from within and without could significantly change the transport sector, according to a new report released at the annual International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit.

Passenger transport will increase nearly three-fold to 2050, from 44 trillion to 122 trillion passenger-kilometres. Global freight demand will also triple, according to projections published by the intergovernmental think tank.

“At 4.5 per cent, air freight is expected to have the highest compound annual growth rate of all modes through 2050, although representing a small share of total freight tonne-kilometres,” stated the report. It also said that more than three-quarters of all freight will continue to be carried by ships in 2050, more or less unchanged from 2015.

“At the same time,” said Jari Kauppila, head of Quantitative Policy Analysis and Foresight with the ITF, at a press conference held during the Summit, “freight transport and logistics are undergoing major transformations, and these will likely be even more disruptive in the future. Technology, business models, consumer behaviour, shifts in trade patterns and other factors all contribute to a changing transport landscape and how they play out can have a substantial impact on the projected growth.”

Jari Kauppila (Head of Quantitative Policy Analysis and Foresight, ITF) during the press conference for the launch of the 2019 Transport Outlook at the International Transport Forum’s 2019 Summit on “Transport Connectivity for Regional Integration” in Leipzig, Germany, on 22 May 2019.

Although unlikely, new opportunities for commercial shipping could open in light of the decrease of the extent of ice cover in the Artic sea, which would shorten distances considerably from Asia to both Europe and North America. Large transcontinental infrastructure projects may establish alternative routes between major trade partners in East Asia and Europe, while also increasing access to markets in Central Asia and other regions including Africa. This can have an impact on port activity and the way surface transport infrastructure is used. Some parts of current road, rail and river networks could experience major reductions in traffic while others would see sharp increases.

Other disruptions include the growth of e-commerce and increased vehicle automation.

According to the report, greater ease of purchase and returns can increase demand and foster a trend towards more individualized, small-scale deliveries, leading to more freight transport and increasing the share of relatively carbon-intensive modes, such as air and road.

When it comes to vehicle automation, Kauppila pointed to the ability to decrease or totally remove labour costs and use vehicles in more flexible ways can significantly cut transport costs and revolutionize the freight transport market, not least by pushing up demand for road freight and shifting freight from rail and inland waterways onto roads.

High capacity vehicles (HCV) that carry bigger loads than regular trucks could contribute to lowering emissions, limiting congestion and reducing overall transportation costs while increasing safety. A large-scale introduction of high capacity trucks could lower road freight’s CO2 emissions by three per cent in 2050. If long-distance road freight can switch to low- or zero-carbon fuels, its emissions would fall 16 per cent

But, report said, there are also caveats. Like other cost saving measures, HCVs could cause a rebound effect: If they cause a reverse modal shift from rail to road transport, the net impact on emissions will be negative above a certain threshold.

Finally, widespread adoption of decarbonizing technologies for heavy-duty long-haulage by 2050 could lead to a decrease of total freight related emissions, although this would also require zero-carbon generation of electric power and hydrogen.

 

Getting to Zero

The Transport Decarbonization Alliance

Almost all global trade originates from, traverses or is destined for a metropolitan area. However, very few cities and countries have developed structured and sustainable freight policies, dedicated programs or partnerships with the private sector to address the core issues related to urban freight. In most cases, the issue is about lack of ownership: most national governments consider urban freight to be a local problem; many local authorities consider it to be a private sector problem; and the private sector often considers it to be an infrastructure and regulatory problem.

One organization is trying to change this through collaboration between countries, cities and companies—the 3Cs. The Transport Decarbonization Alliance (TDA) unveiled their white paper, Zero Emission Urban Freight, at the International Transport Forum’s 2019 Summit. Since its formation in 2018, TDA has gathered 35 signatory organizations, including countries such at Portugal, Netherlands and the state of California.

“There is a world of goods transportation supporting citizens’ lives: from an e-commerce order delivered to your doorstep by e-bike, to refuse collections, to fresh goods delivered to the neighbourhood grocery store or the paper for the office printer, to the concrete mixer trucks for new buildings and construction. Urban freight is all around us,” reads the report.

“The goal of this whitepaper is to provide a common vision for countries, cities and companies on the topic of zero emission urban freight,” said Sita Holtslag, senior advisor sustainable mobility, The Netherlands, at a press conference held at the ITF Summit. “It is also a resource for these stakeholders to design, plan and implement successful zero emission urban freight measures by 2025.”

“It aims to ensure cohesion, working together to take concrete steps towards tangible actions. As such, this paper does not intend to be an exhaustive review of existing strategies and tools but rather to provide a common preliminary knowledge base to build upon.”

According to the white paper, urban freight is responsible for a substantial share of pollution and CO2 emissions. In the absence of sustainable freight planning, this is likely to be aggravated further with the rise of e-commerce and an increasing customer expectation of ever faster deliveries.

“In the business-as-usual scenario, the environmental footprint of urban freight will continue to grow as it is impacted by fast urbanization trends and the increase in direct delivery of products to households through e-commerce,” said Holtslag.

While not a member of TDA, Canada recently became the first nation to endorse the Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero program, launched by Calstart, a nonprofit California-based clean transportation industry consortium. The program, which works with the TDA, calls for global adoption of zero-emission and near-zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in key urban communities by 2025.

“Canada is well-positioned to be among the leaders transitioning to zero-emission commercial fleets, delivering both environmental and economic benefits,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada. “We’re a big country and we move a lot of freight by truck. We’re also a heavily urban country, and as cities grow, more is being invested in public transit. Shifting to zero-emission trucks and buses, many of which are made right here in Canada, will cut both carbon pollution and fuel costs. It’s a win-win.”


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