How do we make the shift towards more sustainable transport systems? At a future-oriented seminar arranged by Scania, politicians and business people discussed this increasingly crucial issue.
The event was arranged in conjunction with the final of Scania´s Young European Truck Driver Competition in Södertälje.
The panel members included Swedish Minister for Infrastructure, Anna Johansson, the Deputy Head of Cabinet, Energy and Climate Change at the European Commission, Pierre Schellekens, Per Andersson, Head of Operational Excellence at ICA, one of the biggest transport buyers in Sweden and Henrik Henriksson, Head of Sales and Marketing Scania.
The purpose of the seminar, moderated by Åsa Pettersson, Head of Public and Environmental Affairs at Scania, was to outline a Swedish and a European perspective on how to make the shift towards more sustainable transport systems that involves stakeholders in business and politics.
Growing need for transport
With increasing globalisation and urbanisation there’s also a growing need for transport. At the same time, the transport sector is accountable for a quarter of European greenhouse gas emissions. How can this growth be more sustainable? The Swedish Minister for Infrastructure, Anna Johansson, laid out a broad approach when opening the discussion.
“It’s important to understand that this is not only about environmental or ecological issues. Sustainability has to be social, economic as well as ecological. And the transport sector can contribute to all these fields. For us, the politicians, we need to have legislation, regulation and also taxes and fees to point out a sustainable direction.”
Pierre Schellekens from the European Commission agreed that transport systems must contribute to a wider objective:
“There’s not a simple answer to this question. The way you define a sustainable transport system tells you a lot about which way you are going. Some put more emphasis on the word sustainable, others on the word transport, as we in the European Commission do. We need transport as a backbone for economic growth and employment in the European market. And equally important, as the Minister says, is to make sure that transport systems contribute to wider objectives, in terms of, as an example, the fight against climate change.”
Cooperation and partnerships
A common thread in the discussion was the recognition of cooperation and partnerships between all the stakeholders in a transport system. Per Andersson from ICA said:
“Sustainable transport for us is taking care of every issue within the transport sector. For us it’s mainly about starting up cooperation. To make it happen now – not 2050 – we need to drive that change together with transport companies, vehicle suppliers, fuel suppliers and others.”
Pierre Schellekens agreed:
“We need to have a transport infrastructure that makes sustainable transport possible. It’s important to cooperate with the market, as well as conduct research to find the solutions and new techniques needed by the market to be more sustainable.”
Understand the customer’s customer
Scania, as a provider of transport solutions, has a tradition of building relationships with the transport companies. Henrik Henriksson explained:
“We have realised that to be able to assist our customers in a better way we need to understand more about their customers’ needs. When we do that we can have a holistic view and really take out waste in the transport system.”
Per Andersson also agreed:
“I also believe that cooperation is needed to understand the business. We need to find other types of business models than the traditional way of selling vehicles. It’s more like building a new business model.”
Henrik Henriksson added:
“A very good example of such partnerships is the “Integrated Transport Research Lab,” where Scania is cooperating with the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and also with other companies coming in.”
“But the strongest partnerships we can have are with our customers. Because then we can really understand the triggers to improve a flow or a transport solution. And that’s the core of it.”
Sustainability as premium
Henrik Henriksson then described how Scania can contribute to more sustainable road transport by taking a holistic flow-oriented view on the transport systems, tailor-making transport solutions, connecting vehicles and offering vehicles that run on all renewable non-fossil fuels; bio ethanol, biodiesel and biogas.
“We have been providing equipment for these fuels for many years,” he said. “It works and it’s sustainable today. We will continue our journey as a premium brand, but sustainability is the new premium. I think that goes for us as well as for transport companies and the transport buyers.”
If it is policy is to push the stakeholders in the transport industry into a more sustainable direction and create the right conditions to work together, regulation and legislation play a key role, Anna Johansson noted:
“On the issue of new non-fossil fuels there has been a revolution recent years. To know which one of these fuels to support, we need to be both very fast – to make change happen – but also a bit slow so we don’t put all the money into systems that won’t work over a longer time. And this has to be considered both on national and international levels.”
Spreading the efforts
She also called for international standardisation regarding pilot projects like the electrified roads that will be tested in Sweden.”
Pierre Schellekens predicted that transport in the near future will play an even bigger role for the climate ambitions of the European Union.
“As we move towards 2030 and the EU’s objective of reducing emissions by 40 percent, of course transport systems will need to contribute more than has previously been the case. We are coming to a phase in our climate policy where we cannot expect other sectors to carry as much of the share as they did before; we need to spread the efforts more widely.”
In the end everyone agreed that biofuels are the only real sustainable solution today.
Henrik Henriksson said:
“Electrification will come, but it will be in combination with biofuels. So any infrastructure built for biofuels will still be valid after 4-5 years. And it can be combined with electrification.”
Pierre Schellekens added:
“In the short-term biofuels will deliver more sustainable transport systems. Sometime around 2025 I think we will see alternatives on a wider scale.”
Minister meeting Scania executives
After the seminar, and before awarding the prize to Europe’s best young truck driver, the Minister for Infrastructure Anna Johansson had a separate short meeting on Swedish transport policy issues with members of Scania’s Executive Board, including Acting President and CEO Per Hallberg.