We need the right technology, not new technology and, essentially a systemic mindset to realise a sustainable transport system. That was the message delivered by Scania at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP23).
“Possibilities rather than problems” were the focus of this year’s conference says Jonas Strömberg, Scania’s Director of Sustainable Solutions. Despite this, Strömberg felt there was, at times, too much emphasis on what he called “silver-bullet technology”.
“My first line is always that the technology is not the problem, we have the technology. The problem is that procurers, cities and decision makers are not asking for cost-efficient technology, they are only asking for the next technology,” he says.
Systemic approach to sustainable transport
Speaking during a seminar on public transport Strömberg emphasised the necessity to use several solutions with the technology already present. He also underlined the need to approach sustainable transport systematically.
“We shouldn’t only be looking at the city but also to whole regional transport patterns. Different solutions are needed for different areas, and procuring whole systems of vehicles, infrastructure and clean fuels makes it possible for us in the industry to offer really cost-efficient solutions.”
Considering the whole transport system
Strömberg explained that a change in mindset when it comes to procurement is fundamental.
“To understand the situation you need to understand the operators, the customers, and the cities. This is why one of our key messages was when you undertake procurement you must consider the whole transport system in a systematic way.”
He also spoke of the need for CO2 taxation.
“We believe you really have to have a global CO2 tax otherwise nothing will change.”
Replacing fossil fuel
A CO2 emissions tax has transformed Sweden. In 1970 the nation was the most oil-dependent nation per capita of all the European countries. Now, apart from the transport sector, oil has been phased out everywhere. However, the transport sector is changing fast. Sweden has the highest replacement of fossil fuel systems in the transport sector of any country. A good example of this is Stockholm county’s 2,300 strong bus fleet. Only one bus, on a small island in the archipelago, is still run on a fossil fuel – diesel – and it is soon to be replaced.
For 15 years, public transport procurement in Sweden has been demanding CO2 efficiency, not necessarily new technology. It is the most cost-efficient solution and has reduced CO2 by over 90 percent. All this has been achieved with “off-the-shelf” technology, nothing new.
Scania’s biogas buses in the UK are another good example of a cost-effective sustainable solution. They reduce 90 percent of emissions by 80 percent the cost of diesel.
Making transport more efficient
While on a panel with Business Sweden, Urban Wästljung, Senior Adviser, Public and Sustainability Affairs at Scania was encouraged to see united political opinion on a sustainable future.
“The strength of Swedish and Nordic climate policies is the big consensus of opinion between the opposition parties and the governing parties that we need to do more to get a sustainable society and to de-carbonise. Therefore, whatever happens in the next election, this development will continue and this is important for industry.”
Wästljung underlined the importance to the panel of making the transport of goods more efficient, telling them that “one of Scania’s goals is to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% from our land transport by 2025.”