Association, Inc.

Issue No. 2, 2011

At the Recent UN Cancun Conference, the World’s Leading Automobile Associations Called for an Integrated Approach to Reducing CO2 Emissions

During last year’s UN climate change conference in Cancun (Mexico), JAMA in collaboration with ACEA (Europe) and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (USA) organized a dedicated side event (“Different Regions, Different Solutions”) which focused on policy means to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation.

Held on 8 December 2010, the event’s underlining message was that successfully reducing the transport sector’s CO2 emissions requires an integrated approach that necessarily involves manufacturers, governments and consumers, and one that is appropriate to the local settings it is deployed in.

Recent figures estimate that the transportation sector is responsible for nearly 22% of the world’s total man-made CO2 emissions.  At the same time, the demand for increased mobility is unprecedented. More so than ever before, mobility can be seen to play an essential role in sustaining economic activities and in enhancing a person’s quality of life.  Whether transporting everyday household goods or facilitating the movement of people from place to place, mobility remains indispensible to modern society and its everyday functioning.

Against this background, the automotive industry acknowledges that approaches to addressing CO2 reductions will inevitably vary in different regions of the world due to characteristics of local economies, local culture, local infrastructure and local customer demands.  The unique nature of the challenge facing the automotive sector is thus unlikely to be solved via technological advancement alone.

The side event in Cancun was thus another opportunity for the world’s leading automobile associations to stress their commitment to delivering sustainable transport via integrated actions – a strategy for reducing CO2 emissions focusing on driving habits, traffic managements, use of low-carbon fuels, and the advancement of energy-efficient technology on vehicles.  The approach reflects the industry’s view that no silver bullet exists for reducing CO2 emissions, and that governments, auto makers, energy companies and consumers need to share responsibilities in order to achieve an integrated solution.

Regarding the event’s content, Ms. Julie Becker, Vice-president for Environmental Affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, opened the debate. She highlighted that indeed CO2 emission reduction can only be the result of an integrated approach touching upon consumers’ behaviour and their purchasing decisions, vehicle efficiency, fuels and infrastructure.

Several speakers from Japan, Europe and North America were invited to showcase their country’s best practices.  Contributions were made by Brian Turner, Officer for US Federal Climate Policy, Holger Dalkman, Programme Director of Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Transport (SLOCAT), Eduardo Solis Sanchez, President of the Mexican Automotive Industry Association and Shinji Kato, General Manager of the Foundation for Promoting Personal Mobility and Ecological Transportation.  While Mr. Turner introduced California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) which promotes effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants, Mr. Dalkmann focused on how combating climate change was a ‘shared responsibility’, arguing that integrated solutions involving policy makers and industry must be found.  In his turn, Mr. Solis Sanchez mentioned that Mexico is facing a problem mostly with the used automobiles and the use of high sulphur fuel, which should be regulated at national level.

A best practice example for eco-driving was addressed by the event’s Japanese representative, Mr. Shinji Kato, who first introduced the Foundation’s central objective which is to promote environmentally friendly transportation and barrier free transportation.  Since 1997 Eco-Mo’s working group has been promoting eco-driving in Japan through various means including the distribution of education materials featuring tips for eco-driving, holding symposiums on eco-driving, and hosting a dedicated eco-driving promotion website.  Besides these promotional activities, Eco-Mo is also in charge of authorising educational authorities, such as driving schools, to train drivers in eco-driving methods. Eco-driving classes certified by Eco-Mo aim to illustrate through theoretical and practical teachings that eco-driving is not difficult and can have a positive impact on reducing CO2 emissions.  It is estimated that, on the one hand, drivers educated in eco-driving will decrease their automobile’s CO2 output by 10-30%, and on the other hand, eco-driving also reduces traffic accidents and vehicle failures.

According to Mr. Kato, Japan’s Green Management Certification scheme is thought to yield equally impressive results.  The scheme aims to reduce environmental loads and fuel costs in the transportation industry by promoting a green management system, explained Mr. Kato.  By meeting the certification requirements of Eco-Mo, businesses heavily relying on transportation for their core activity (i.e. taxis, buses, logistics providers) are able to apply for a Green Management certificate for “Green Operation”.  Mr. Kato also noted that different government initiatives such as subsidies being awarded to businesses that introduce low pollution vehicles have contributed to the success of the scheme.

The next meeting of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) will take place in Durban, South Africa between 28 November 2011 and 9 December 2011.