Please see below selected recent transport-related change:
- Ship traffic in the Arctic is getting much busier. Big oil projects in the region are fuelling the congestion.
- Approximately 75% of the world’s industrial fishing vessels, along with over 25% of transport and energy vessel activities, remain untracked by public monitoring systems.
- A US$3.5 billion Chinese state-owned port opened in Chancay, Peru, later this year, giving Beijing a direct gateway to Latin America’s natural resources and cementing its status as the region’s largest trade partner. The port was expected to handle major volumes of copper and soy, and it could reduce shipping times to China by as much as two weeks for some exporters.
- Large shipping firms faced waves of upcoming emissions fees. Boats carrying goods in and out of the EU would have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for releasing carbon into the air.
- The aviation industry generates between 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, but all regions of the world are set to see big increases by 2050. Unlike many other industries, the weight-to-power ratio of batteries makes electrification a challenge. That’s where sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) comes in. Synthetic fuels are made from biological sources like biomass or non-biological sources like CO2, and can be used with existing aviation infrastructure and equipment. Today, SAFs meet around 1% of aviation industry fuel demand, but this must increase to 13-15% by 2040 to help the industry reach net-zero emissions by 2050,
- The World Bank estimated that a levy on international shipping could raise an annual average of $40bn to $60bn between 2025 and 2050. As well as being reinvested into maritime transport, it suggested some should go to developing countries to aid their green transition. Some countries propose putting revenues towards compensating vulnerable countries for “loss and damage” caused by climate change.
- Wireless, solar-powered charging scooter docking stations were installed in the Germany city of Regensburg. Such clean, cheap, flexible transport may change how people move around cities, making them more productive and liveable.
- A US Navy ship can operate autonomously at sea for 30 days. The Expeditionary Fast Transport USNS Apalachicola is 337 feet long, making it the largest autonomous ship in the Navy’s fleet; experts say it could be used as a roaming platform for the launch of missiles or drones.
- During the 2022 World Economic Forum, airports around Davos recorded 1,040 private flights, double the number of an average week. Private jets are the most polluting mode of transport per passenger kilometre. It was as if the emissions of 350,000 cars had been let into the atmosphere in that period, according to a report by Greenpeace/CE Delft. Of those flights, over 50% travelled less than 750km, meaning they easily could have been substituted by a train ride. "Davos has a perfectly adequate railway station, still these people can’t even be bothered to take the train for a trip as short as 21 km,” said Klara Maria Schenk, a Greenpeace transport campaigner. “Do we really believe that these are the people to solve the problems the world faces?”
- The world’s first emissions fee for the massive maritime shipping industry will be applied in the EU. Despite conservative objections, the World Shipping Council trade group said “we are ready” to transition to alternative fuels.
- Dutch students invented a car that reduces carbon emissions. The “Zero Emission Mobility” vehicle captures CO2 while driving.
- A UN body set new emissions goals for flying. The agreement to reach net-zero in the aviation industry by 2050 is nonbinding and drew criticism from environmentalists.
- The path to safer, cleaner transport doesn’t necessarily depend on the newest technologies. Finland, with its icy streets, had one third the road fatality rate of the US through design changes: progressively lower speed limits, punitive speeding fines and a serious approach to accidents.
- According to Azeem Azhar in Exponential View, autonomous passenger cars are a "faster horse". The future of transport, like so many technologies, is about miniturisation and modularity. The computing industry didn’t grow because mainframes became more powerful, it grew because we made micro-computers. The transport industry won’t get larger with more powerful vehicles either. Micromobility is the new paradigm. Autonomy is just a feature.
- An all-electric airplane took to the skies. The prototype could become the first fully electric commercial plane.
- An autonomous merchant ship sailed from Mexico, through the Panama Canal, and on to port in South Korea. The 20,000 kilometre journey of the PRISM Courage, an ultra-large carrier made by Hyundai, marked the first time a large carrier vessel had made a transoceanic autonomous voyage.
- As arctic ice melts, sea routes will become more accessible for longer periods throughout the year, having an impact on trade and shipping. Couple this with the advent of autonomous shipping, and the landscape changes significantly.
- Further reading:
- Synthetic fuel could start replacing traditional petroleum and plant-based biofuels by as early as the mid-2030s, helping to decarbonise long-distance air travel, according to Qantas, which explained that power-to-liquid technology (which manufactures synthetic hydrocarbon fuel by extracting carbon from the air and hydrogen from water via renewable energy before mixing them together) could prove the “nirvana” of sustainable aviation fuel, because it would not compete with food production as crop-based biofuel does by taking up valuable arable land.
- Flying passengers at faster speeds requires more energy, which means greater carbon emissions barring significant progress on jet design. At a time when there’s already pressure to lighten the carbon footprint in the industry, some question whether faster speeds should be prioritised at all. Currently, the aviation industry accounts for perhaps 2-3% of total carbon emissions, and may increase as much as three-fold by 2050.
- For people in rural areas with poor public transit, not having a car can mean not being able to secure a job. To help get them to work and everywhere else they need to be, UK-based RideTandem connects passengers, employers and local transport providers. The London-based startup matches people going the same way around the same time, enabling them to share a taxi for close to the price of a bus ride. To drum up enough riders to make shared taxis and mini-buses feasible, RideTandem works with employers who can't staff their operations without offering some form of transportation. Passengers book and pay for rides with an easy-to-use app, while employers have access to a personalised dashboard to track usage and costs.
- Shipping is at the heart of globalisation, and when it slows or stops, it creates massive gaps in supply chains. Since shipping accounts for 2.5% of CO2 emissions, the design approval of a hydrogen and wind powered ship was an important milestone on the journey to decrease the global carbon footprint.
- Thousands of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft could be flying above cities by 2030, according to research into the future of air mobility by McKinsey experts and industry pioneers, who described what's coming and how it could affect passengers, pilots, and the planet.
- Fossil fuel powered ships need an end date to get a move on with the shipping industry’s ambitious climate targets, says the CEO of the world’s largest operator of container ships. Maersk’s chief Søren Skou calls for a “global drop dead date” for fossil fuelled ships similar to the EU’s ban on new cars with a combustion engine from 2035. According to Skou, a clear timeline to phase out polluting ships together with a global carbon tax would help reduce the price gap between fossil fuels and the carbon neutral fuels of the future.
- As the polar ice cap continues to recede, trans-Arctic maritime shipping traffic recorded by Russia was already up 11 percent in 2021 from the record 1,014 trips made in all of 2020 because the season started early in February. Russia started to build infrastructure to serve the route, a move likely to irk the US, a major Arctic power, as well as China, which though happy to get more Russian oil and gas through Russia's northern waters but doesn't want Moscow to control the passage, reported GZERO Media.
- Trams are making a comeback as a cost-effective way to turn urban areas more sustainable, Politico reported. Many EU countries used part of their post-COVID recovery fund to decarbonise transport, with cities including Lisbon, Berlin, Rome and Seville announcing plans to restore or expand tram networks.
- The boss of the world's biggest shipping firm told the BBC people would be willing to pay a little bit more for their goods if it helped tackle climate change. From footwear to medical equipment, shipping can be a big part of any product's carbon emissions. The industry as a whole accounts for about 2% of the global total. That means that if it was a country it would be the sixth biggest polluter, above Germany. Maersk chief executive Soren Skou said that for his company the extra costs of greener energy amount to billions of dollars but "for the individual consumer, for the individual product, it will be almost nothing".
- There are some signs of a "micromobility revolution", evidenced by a global shift away from cars towards bicycles, scooters and micro-vehicles, creating a market worth up to $500 billion in the next decade. In the US alone, the number of shared bike and e-scooter trips grew 60%, to 136 million between 2018 and 2019.
- The world’s largest shipping business moved ahead with plans to reduce its environmental footprint. AP Moller-Maersk says its first carbon-neutral container vessel will take to the waters by 2023, seven years ahead of schedule. The vessels will run on methanol, a cleaner alternative to the highly polluting fuel that still powers the majority of container ships. Maersk, which aims to become a net-zero company by 2050, vowed to only purchase carbon-neutral vessels from now on.
- With large areas underserved by public transportation, and urban car ownership often more trouble than it’s worth, Quartz analysed the rise of the micro-mobility industry, whose ethos is: small is beautiful - referring to both the trip and the vehicle. This undersized focus could have an oversized impact on the way we move, the sustainability of our transport, the way we design our cities, and how we move from point A to point B.
- Many never thought they would miss being packed into an overcrowded train, or bus or metro on their way to the office, but as many continued to work from home for may months during the pandemic, that lack of travel time at the beginning and end of the workday made boundaries even fuzzier for many, so Quartz suggested creating a new ritual to transition from one facet of life to another.
- Many big city governments struggle with traffic congestion, but in developing economies the problem is often exacerbated by poor infrastructure. The answer isn't always to build more roads: Many big city governments struggle with traffic congestion, but in developing economies the problem is often exacerbated by poor infrastructure. The answer isn't always to build more roads: Addis Ababa in Ethiopia has an ambitious plan to build 800 kilometers (490 miles) of bike and pedestrian lanes by 2030.
- Roughly 80% of the goods we consume are transported on ships. Most of the time the shipping industry operates as planned. But the Covid-19 coronavirus has revealed how brittle shipping can be in the wake of a sudden black swan event. China is home to 7 of the 10 largest and busiest container ports in the world, and the outbreak has endangered our global supply chains. Ports are either closed down entirely or ships must first sit in quarantine, which has made it impossible to load or discharge goods: car parts, medical supplies, phones and consumer gadgets, and ingredients. If containers aren't being emptied, there's no room to load anything new. Global trade is slowing, and this will cause reverberations for months -- possibly years -- to come.
- It will take public health officials several months to contain Covid-19. By that point, the shipping industry could face another big disruptor: environmental regulation. The EU commission's new president, Ursula von der Leyen, has made curbing maritime emissions a top priority, according to the Future Today Institute. Oil tankers, container ships and cruise ships now guzzle huge amounts of fuel that is full of sulfur, a chemical that produces poisonous gases and harmful particles. The maritime industry contributes to 2.5% of all greenhouse gases and is linked to 14 million childhood asthma cases and 403,000 premature deaths among people with cardiac and lung disease.
- Transport and the Environment, a Belgian NGO, argued that even with the new rules, the shipping industry would continue to pollute on massive levels. The group reported that even at the 0.5% cap, the industry’s emissions will still be 100 times worse than all of Europe’s 260 million passenger vehicles. Enforcement, too, will likely fall on countries like Liberia and Panama, where an increasing number of vessels are registered and that tend to have lax oversight.
- China authorised $125 billion of new rail projects. Plans for 6,800 kilometre of new railways, including 3,200 kilometres of new high-speed rail, are part of a broader effort to stem the effects of an economic slowdown that’s hitting as Beijing attempts to manage it standoff with the US over trade, noted GZEROMedia.
- The Pakistani port city of Karachi announced plans for a new bus network with a difference: the buses will be powered by cow poo The 200 buses that will make up the Green Bus Rapid Transit network will run on bio-methane made from manure produced by Karachi’s water buffaloes. The network will serve 320,000 passengers daily, and reduce carbon emissions by 2.6 million tonnes over the next 30 years. City authorities say the buses will be running in 2020.