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Setting out short and long-term goals

A combination of transitional measures for the short term and sustainable measures for the long term could be the way forward:

Avoid and contain demand for transport services

Shift passengers and freight to transport modes with lower emissions (trains, buses and ships)

Replace fossil fuels with low-carbon electricity, hydrogen and synthetic fuels

More efficient powertrains

Improve performance through vehicle design

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Changing attitudes to road transport

 

Road transport is the largest contributor to global carbon transport emissions at around 75%. Air and water-borne transport make up most of the remaining 25%. The growing concern over road transport emissions has led to locally implemented low-carbon or zero-emission zones in some cities, and regulations in some regions to influence vehicle carbon emissions. We may need to implement specific regulations taking into account local/regional aspects of South Wales.

Local initiatives will be important in shifting public attitudes and motivation, and greater awareness of the health impacts will reinforce this.

 

 

Fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the transport mix for some years to come, not least because vehicles sold today will remain in use for many years. Legislation is critical to meeting targets. Governments in some countries have made ambitious statements on transport, such as the UK Government’s recent commitment to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. And the UN’s International Maritime Organization has recently approved the first agreement to cut GHG emissions in the shipping sector to 50&=% of their 2008 level by 2050.

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Zero-carbon and emission fuel options

 

Faced with these challenges, what choices exist? We already have some zero-carbon and zero-emission transport options (walking and cycling), and there are government policy measures in place to encourage a greater shift to these modes.

The solution may lie in a mix of biofuels, electricity and hydrogen…

 

Liquid fuels, such as biodiesel, generated from biomass or waste. Biofuels can have a positive carbon impact and avoid competition with land use for food production if produced correctly. However, once burnt in an engine they can still have a negative environmental impact. There are valid concerns that biomass resources could be better targeted at the production of biochemicals to replace chemicals currently produced from oil.

If generated from low-carbon, renewable energy sources, electricity can be used to fuel emission-free and quiet electric vehicles (EVs). The sector will continue to grow as battery technology improves, and as manufacturer and customer confidence evolves through use.

Can be generated through low-carbon means (either from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage or by electrolysis of water using electricity generated from renewables) then the only emission from hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles is water. A small number of these vehicles are available, with just over 1,000 delivered in the first quarter of 2018. Growth is constrained by both manufacturing capacity and the availability of hydrogen refuelling stations.

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Clean fuels of the future

Our future transport systems are likely to rely on a mix of biofuels, electricity and hydrogen.

To utilise these different fuels, we need to invest not only in the transport technologies themselves, but also in the infrastructure that supports them. This includes:

  • electric charging points
  • electricity generation and distribution systems
  • hydrogen refuelling
  • low-carbon hydrogen generation
  • production of biofuels.

Once consumers can be offered clean transport choices without compromising on cost and performance, the shift could happen very quickly indeed.