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No more excuses: Action now for sustainable transport

“We are in the early stages of a sustainability revolution,” says former US Vice President Al Gore. Al Gore spoke at the Scania Sustainable Transport Forum in Stockholm, which gathered industry and political decision-makers to chart the pathway to achieving carbon-free heavy transport by 2050, in keeping with the Paris Agreement.

The call to action has never been more urgent. “Climate change is the most serious challenge that mankind has ever faced,” emphasised Gore. “Scientists are making the point that things are getting even worse than we predicted earlier.”

The situation is worsening as we witness shrinking glaciers, increased flooding, draughts, heat waves, unprecedented heavy rainfalls, hurricanes and disrupted wind and ocean currents. The dramatic consequences are already resulting in uninhabitable areas of the world.

Solar energy cheaper than fossil fuel

The cost of solar energy is rapidly decreasing and is already below the cost of fossil fuel. In China, 54 percent of new energy comes from solar and wind and in Europe, 77 percent of new generated energy from renewable sources.

Scania has initiated a study that shows that several pathways can be selected to achieve a carbon-free heavy transport system by 2050. These pathways include switching to battery electric vehicles, biofuels, fuel cells or a mix of all these technologies. To succeed, change is needed at a pace never before seen and action must start immediately.

Scania’s President and CEO stated that he was convinced that we can make the transformation to sustainable transport. “We haven’t waited for the politicians, we haven’t even waited for our customers because the two degree global warming increase is not waiting for us. We must work with what we have today – here and now.”

Christiana Figures, who led the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement, says that prerequisites for initiating these pathways are a compelling vision, stubborn optimism, radical collaboration, contagious leadership and publicised progress.

Shared  public and private re­spon­si­bil­ity

Making progress is dependent on shared responsibility between public and private sectors. “We should not fall into the trap that business needs to take on the role of government. Having said that, we do need purpose-driven corporations such as Scania, with emphasis on a triple bottom line comprising social, environmental and financial goals.”

At the Sustainable Transport Forum Scania, together with energy provider E.ON, infrastructure provider Siemens and global retailer H&M group, announced that they had formed a coalition to accelerate the decarbonisation of heavy transport. “At the end of the day it’s all about mindset,” says Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability H&M group. “One year ago, my 6-year old son asked my husband why we were destroying the planet by not using an electric car. In six-seven years’ time he will be a H&M customer and these are the expectations that H&M will have to meet. We don’t only need to make fashion sustainable but to make sustainability fashionable.”

 

Part­ner­ships can ac­cel­er­ate the movement

Partnerships such as this will be instrumental on the continuing journey towards fossil-free heavy transport. “We have the technology today but need to partner to accelerate the movement,” says Henriksson. “We see that teaming up with our customers and their customers gives results. But we also need to work closely with policy makers to remove hurdles. We cannot do this alone; we need friends, partner and partnership to make 2050 happen.”