Decision-Makers' Session Outline

Sustainable Transport: Is the Future Electric?
Thursday, 27 May - 15.15-16.30 - Hall 2
Reducing the carbon-intensity and energy consumption of transport is an essential objective for the sector:
  • Where is innovation needed to help transport reduce its carbon emissions and energy use?
  • What is the potential role of electricity in meeting these goals? How can a reliable and clean supply of electricity be ensured?
  • What other alternative options for energy supply exist?
  • How can new, low-carbon and electric technologies be promoted? What is the role for private and public actors?
  • Nik Gowing, International Journalist and Broadcaster
  • Dominique Bussereau, Secretary of State for Transport, France
  • BK Chaturvedi, Member, Planning Commission, India
  • Nathan Guy, Associate Minister of Transport, New Zealand
  • Geraldine Knatz, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles
  • Henry Li, Senior Director, BYD Company
  • Tetsuro Tomita, Executive Vice President, East Japan Railway Company
  • Oluf Ulseth, Senior Vice President European Affairs, Statkraft
  • Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Executive Vice President R&D, Nissan
Reducing the carbon and energy-intensity of transport is universally recognised as an essential objective for the sector.

Many governments are turning to electricity as an alternative to fossil fuels that will support current and growing demand for transport while also meeting environmental goals. But fundamental questions remain.

To begin with, the sources of electricity must be reliable and sustainable. The degree to which the increased use of electricity will reduce GHGs is already extremely different across countries and regions, based on how that energy is generated. Also, without important improvements to electricity distribution, increasing electric power supply to transport can reduce the energy available for other uses.

The technologies for powering transport are also a key consideration. For automobiles, when can batteries be expected to have the longevity required to meet basic needs? How can charging facilities be widely deployed? Are new environmental challenges being created by the manufacturing and disposal of batteries?

Much of the public debate about electricity focuses on road vehicles, but consideration must also be given to the rest of the transport system. What are the options for improving the environmental performance in the air and maritime sectors? Is there a role for electricity here, particularly in maritime ports and airports? If not, what are the other options, and how soon can they be expected to be available? Electricity is already a major force in rail transport, but can this be improved upon?

In terms of the deployment of new fuels and energy sources, what is the role of government versus that of other actors? How can governments engage objectively while avoiding pressure from those promoting specific solutions? What can be learned from earlier efforts to promote more environmentally friendly energy sources, including bio-fuels?
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