Dr Young Tae Kim is the Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum (ITF). Prior, Dr Kim served as Director-General in Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT). He holds Master’s degrees from Seoul National University and Paris University de Vincennes-Saint-Denis, as well as a Doctorate in Political Sociology and Public Policy from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences-Po), France.
Transport accounts for almost a quarter of man-made CO2 emissions, second only to emissions from the energy sector. Furthermore, transport emissions are still growing, while others sectors have peaked and their CO2 emissions are falling. As incomes rise the number of cars on the road is growing quickly and this is set to continue. Therefore, action to reduce CO2 emissions from transport is vital to meet climate change targets. We at the ITF are working to build a catalogue of effective mitigation measures to help governments in choosing the right path for the decarbonisation of transport. We do not want to end up in a situation where governments are obliged to reduce the mobility of people and forego all the benefits, economic and personal, that come with it.
Both the private and the public sectors need to lead the transition. Governments have to create a framework in which private initiative is stimulated and citizens and firms are rewarded for their decarbonising efforts, in proportion to the greenhouse gas emissions avoided. Governments should consider setting progressively tighter fuel economy standards. This will allow vehicle manufacturers to invest in low carbon technologies with confidence. The private sector is leading technological innovation, such as improving the performance of batteries for electric mobility which will become important in the long term, while governments are in a good position to nurture the market with the electrification of their own vehicle fleets.
Remote sensing of tailpipe emissions is one innovation that can ensure that vehicle technologies deliver what they promise. It also helps to ensure that policies to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce air pollution work hand in hand. This and the on-board diagnostics required by the latest emissions test regulations in Europe and the USA will ensure emissions of NOx and Particulate Matter by cars, buses and trucks are cut at the same time as CO2 emissions. On a broader front, many cities are investigating shared mobility solutions that make better use of the capacity of vehicles. Private cars are only used 50 minutes out of 24 hours on average, and then carry only 1.2. to 1.4 passengers. Digital technology offers the possibility to match demand for travel with supply of rides to move more people with fewer vehicles. Cars would do what they were made for, rather than be mostly idle in our streets and front yards.