Energy and Climate, two sides of the same coin

With the transport sector being responsible for about 23% of the EU greenhouse gas emissions, it is clear that it has a key contribution to make in emissions reduction in the years to come.

These significant reductions from transport are needed if the EU is to achieve its long-term climate goals. Setting CO2 limit values can be an efficient way of achieving this, but care is needed in setting the correct measurement methods, baseline and reduction levels.

In aiming towards a more efficient and integrated transport system, the European Commission strategy rests on a shift towards alternative fuels and electromobility. Barriers will therefore have to be removed to facilitate a greater roll out of alternative powertrains, such as electric vehicles.

But is electrification the only answer to reducing emissions? “Certainly not”, according to Rolf Willkrans, Director of Environmental Affairs at Volvo Group. “Different technologies will be needed in the energy transition. And whilst the EU regulation should definitely pursue an ambitious reduction level, it will also have to remain realistic and stay affordable for our customers.”

Striking the right balance

“Next to electricity, several other options like liquid natural gas and biofuels are in focus. Sometimes in combination with electrification. In goods transport, the choice of fuel and vehicle technology will largely depend on the application and the mission of the vehicle”, says Willkrans.

There is no single solution in decarbonising the transport sector. Moreover, the deployment of new vehicle technologies must go hand-in-hand with a wider shift within the EU’s energy system.

As the transport sector in Europe is 94% dependent on oil, such a shift will be a significant challenge. This must change not only for environmental reasons, but for the good of the European economy.

Non-European companies supply 80% of EU oil imports, costing over €62bn a year. This also poses serious questions for the energy security of the Continent, particularly in the East.

In the long term, Europe’s decarbonisation strategy will be deemed successful if it sets realistic targets for the transport sector and creates an awareness of the need to decarbonise the entire energy system. Otherwise, even with the deployment of electromobility, Europe would be no closer to achieving climate, economic, and energy security than it is now.