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Issue No. 4, 2009

JAMA invites policy experts and the industry to discuss tackling climate change

On 30 September 2009, JAMA, in partnership with the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation, held a seminar on the topic of 'CO2 reduction in road transport: Towards a low-carbon society', bringing together policy experts and industry representatives to discuss the primary challenge facing the global road transport sector today in achieving sustainable mobility.  JAMA Europe's Director General Hiroki Ota pointed out the timeliness of the event, in the light of developments following European Parliament elections and the UN Conference on Climate Change to take place in Copenhagen in December.

During the seminar, Philip Owen, Head of Unit, Clean Air and Transport, at the European Commission's Environment Directorate-General, explained that the EU welcomes the 25% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target put forward by the new Japanese administration.  Mr Owen stated that decarbonising the transport sector will be one of the priorities of the new College of Commissioners, who are expected to take office in early 2010.  The latest figures show that transport accounts for 25% of GHG emissions in Europe, of which about three-quarters are emitted by road vehicles.

Against this background, several initiatives have already been undertaken, including the adoption of the Regulation on CO2 emissions for new passenger cars.  As regards future measures, however, Mr Owen indicated that it was 'difficult to say at this stage what they will be.'  The Commission is in fact carrying out this year a wide consultation exercise on the future of European transport policy, and a strategic document outlining future initiatives to make transport more sustainable is scheduled for adoption in 2010.

Speaking on behalf of the Commission's Enterprise and Industry DG, Philippe Jean, who heads its automotive unit, talked about some of the measures taken in order to support the European manufacturers in the wake of the global economic crisis.  With respect to the fleet renewal schemes adopted by 14 Member States, Mr Jean said that although they had a substantial impact on the market throughout 2009, the efficiency of these schemes was tied to the short period of time during which they applied, and that it was therefore 'understandable why some Member States decided to put an end' to them.

Tsuneki Matsuo, from the Road Transport Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, highlighted the need for an integrated approach to reducing CO2 emissions in road transport.  Focusing only on improving vehicle performance is ‘unreasonable’, Mr Matsuo said, stating also that 'Japan is determined to combine CO2 emissions reduction and economic growth, and contribute [to global environmental objectives] through technology and policy transfer.'

The International Energy Agency was represented by Lewis Fulton, Senior Transport Energy Specialist, who cited the work of the IEA in its World Energy Outlook (WEO) report in developing scenarios for global emissions based on policy actions undertaken in different countries.  Mr Fulton also said that with respect to electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, 'governments must provide clear targets and support [as well as] coordinate investments' to promote their adoption.

Finally, climate change expert Jens Dinkel at McKinsey & Company referred to his organisation’s new report, Reducing CO2 emissions from passenger vehicles in the global road transportation system, which projects that CO2 emissions from passenger vehicles will increase by 54% through 2030 if no action is taken.  In contrast, the adoption of an integrated approach could reduce such emissions by 47% by 2030.  Achieving that goal requires major changes and 'is possible from a technological point of view', Mr Dinkel said, but only if an integrated approach is adopted.

During the Q&A sessions, seminar participants inquired about crucial related issues, including the additional costs involved in the application of new technologies.  The Commission’s representatives affirmed that the cost-effectiveness of new regulatory measures must be taken into account in the adoption process.  As regards electric vehicles, Mr Owen stated that the Commission is open to discussing arguments in favour of their mass adoption, acknowledging that EVs are 'part of the solution' in tackling transport emissions.

The seminar underscored the need for close cooperation between policy-makers and the industry, which is committed to further emissions reduction.  However, targets need to be achievable and stakeholders must be consulted in the process of their formulation.