His message was clear: The technological foundations are in place, but less talking and more political action are needed in order to move forward.
More than 60% of the 87 million barrels of oil consumed every day is used to power the world’s cars, buses, trucks, airplanes, ships, and trains. Liquid fossil fuels account for more than 96% of the current energy supply to the transport sector. And by 2030 the global transport sector will consume roughly 40% more energy than it does today. These are some of the hard facts and challenges set out in a new report by the World Economic Forum, entitled “Repowering Transport,” which was launched at a press conference in New York earlier today co-presented by Novozymes’ President and CEO, Steen Riisgaard. However challenging these facts might seem, solid and proven technologies to confront them already exist:
“When we discuss how to confront the transport sector’s challenges of the 21st century, we need to stop debating every new technology that is waiting just around the corner, somewhere out there,” says Steen Riisgaard. “We need to stop talking about distant technological fata morganas and look at what viable and proven opportunities already exist, one of which, as the report suggests, is biofuels. Readjusting our focus is key to not missing out on the technologies that can already start delivering greener solutions today.”
Growth in oil consumption can be significantly reduced
The report finds that, even in optimistic scenarios, fossil fuels will remain the primary source of energy in the transport sector for at least the next two decades. And the global transport sector’s energy consumption will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Given concerns regarding energy security, CO2 emissions, and local air quality, such a trajectory is neither desirable nor socially, economically, or environmentally sustainable.
“Biofuels remain the only existing alternative to liquid fuel – and they offer huge potential,” says Steen Riisgaard. “In the US, for instance, advanced biofuels from agricultural residues have the potential to reduce annual oil imports by as much as USD 70bn by 2022, while also reducing CO2 emissions by 140 million tons and at the same time contributing significantly to economic growth. As the report sets out, oil consumption and growth in energy usage can be drastically reduced through an accelerated push to adopt technologies that are already available today.”
However, there is no single technological “silver bullet”. The report suggests a framework of key enablers – partnerships, policies, and financing mechanisms – that are critical for accelerating the development and deployment of current technologies for the transport sector such as biofuels.
“We need to stop talking and go for more action in order to seize the current technological opportunities. Political action is needed to address the need for a framework of key enablers and issues of implementation. Otherwise we will miss out on existing, sound technologies that offer huge potential for confronting the challenges and establishing the foundation for a greener transport sector – and a green economy,” concludes Steen Riisgaard.
Download the full report "Repowering Transport" from the WEF site.