Sustainable mobility: Towards a climate-friendly future

Camille Reynaud
Climate Intelligence
25 November 2021

In our interconnected world, people and goods commute every day within cities, countries and continents. Mobility is an integral part of our daily lives: we go to work, we go to school, we go shopping, we travel around the world, we consume goods that need to be delivered to our city. But this has its price for the environment, because the transport sector has the third largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.

We must reduce the emissions associated with the transport sector! But how do we do that, given that mobility is so important to our daily lives? In this blog post, we have summarised what it takes to make mobility climate-friendly.

How high is the share of mobility in total greenhouse gas emissions?

In Austria, the transport sector was responsible for almost half of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. Achieving climate neutrality in Austria is therefore highly dependent on the decarbonisation of the transport sector.

CO2 emissions in Austria (source: Federal Environment Agency 2021)

How do we make the transition to sustainable mobility?

To mitigate the effects of the climate crisis and achieve net zero by 2050, countries must set ambitious targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions from the transport sector is one of the cornerstones of these targets and action plans.

If you want to learn more about net-zero targets, you can read our blog articles about COP26 and what it means here and here here.

In the European Green Deal, the European Union's commitment to climate neutrality by 2050, the EU has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions from the transport sector by 90 %. In Austria, the government has committed to reduce transport emissions by 35 % by 2030.

Summarising the International Energy Agency 's recommendation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector (the EU factsheet on achieving sustainable mobility and meeting the European Green Deal targets as well as the Austrian Mobility Master Plan for 2030), three main fields of action emerge that are necessary for a sustainable mobility transformation:

1. the reduction of mobility and transport demand:

It seems like the simplest answer, but the most sustainable mobility is the one that doesn't happen! Every day we have to travel kilometres to go to work or school or to pursue our interests outside of work and school. But what if everything was available close to us?

Therefore, the first goal is to reduce the need for mobility in our daily lives. At the country level, this means for example

  • Reduce commuting frequency by rethinking the organisation of workspaces. Austria has committed to reduce the daily distance travelled by 4% by 2030,
  • Development of local tourism,
  • Promote local production and trade with short transport routes.

2. switching to environmentally friendly alternative means of transport:

Of course, people and goods still need to be transported. However, in order to meet mobility needs, a shift to sustainable modes of transport is necessary. After all, current mobility is still largely based on individual fossil fuel-powered cars, which emit a lot of greenhouse gases. In Austria, 60 % of passenger mobility was covered by individual motorised transport in 2020.

Did you know that around two thirds of all car journeys are shorter than 10 km? It is necessary to shift this high dependence on private transport to more environmentally friendly alternatives. This is the only way to achieve the goal of 60% ecomobility by 2040.

Distances of traffic in Austria (Source: VCÖ)

At the country level, this means for the mobility of travellers, for example:

  • Improving the accessibility of facilities by bicycle and on foot
  • Development of efficient public transport networks
  • Develop efficient rail networks for short distances within the country to avoid using your own car, or for longer distances within Europe to avoid flying.
  • Promoting MaaS (Mobility as a Service) projects that aim to make transport more accessible thanks to digitisation projects.

If you are still wondering whether it really makes a difference to take the bike or the train instead of the car or the plane, try answering the following question:

Do you know how far you can travel in Austria with 1 kg ofCO2 emissions, depending on the means of transport? Find out here!

3. greening the rest of transport:

The remaining part of mobility that cannot be avoided or switched to an environmentally friendly alternative must be more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. A study led by Carbone 4 shows that electric vehicles in Europe emit on average only half as muchCO2 per km over their lifetime as petrol vehicles. Yet only 6% of newly registered vehicles in Europe in 2021 are electric, and this share drops to less than 3% in Austria!

Share of electromobility (Source: Our World in Data)

Some modes of transport, such as planes or boats, cannot be electrified in the near (and even distant) future. Therefore, investing in research and development of alternative fuels (such as hydrogen, carbon-neutral jet fuel, etc.) to reduce dependence on fossil fuels is crucial.

A combination of measures in these three areas is necessary to achieve the mobility and transport transition to reduce transport sector emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.

Drive technologies for passenger transport(Source: Mobility Master Plan 2030 - BMK Ministry)

What framework is needed to achieve this transition to mobility?

This mobility shift must be accompanied by the definition of a strong legal framework, for example:

  • Establishment of a minimum energy efficiency for vehicles:

This means that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-based modes of transport must be regulated and controlled. These standards must be aligned with greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

  • Make environmentally friendly transport more attractive:

Incentives for people and companies to switch to electric mobility by providing financial support for the purchase of bicycles and electric vehicles. Taxing fossil fuel-dependent mobility by setting aCO2 tax will also play an important role here. In Austria, the government has announced aCO2 tax of €30 per tonne, or about 8 cents per litre of fuel, to be introduced by July 2022.

  • Development of cities to limit mobility demand:

Around the world, many cities have started to introduce traffic rules and develop more efficient public transport systems. The International Energy Agency has published a map of the latest policies and actions in this area:

Policies and regulations for more efficient public transport systems (Source: International Energy Agency)

What does all this mean for your business?

You probably understood that mobility is a major driver ofCO2 emissions and therefore needs to be addressed. You probably also understand that the private sector's contribution to the mobility transition is also necessary to achieve the change.

Below you will find a list of measures you can implement in your company to reduce transport-related greenhouse gas emissions, reduce yourcarbon footprint and be prepared for future regulatory frameworks.

1. reduce the need for staff mobility:
  • Enable home office: prefer video conferencing for employees with long commutes. Not only since Corona have online meetings had a positive impact on companies in terms of mobility.
  • Prefer virtual or hybrid events: Whenever possible, hybrid versions of your corporate events can be organised, which can be followed remotely by employees in other regions or countries.

2. encourage alternatives to environmentally friendly mobility:

Switching to environmentally friendly mobility can help your company avoid significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions!

  • Support trains and public transport: finance public transport tickets for employees. Since 26 October, the KlimaTicket in Austria allows your employees to use all public transport in a certain area for one year: regionally, supra-regionally or nationwide. The KlimaTicket for the whole of Austria costs € 1,095 and the employer can provide the employee with the KlimaTicket tax-free.
  • Encourage the use of bicycles: You can provide your employees with bicycles or even e-bikes. An alternative is to pay for a subscription to a bike-sharing platform. But it may not only be about providing bikes. Sometimes just providing showers on company premises is enough to encourage employees to cycle to work. Some brands like Gleam or CargoBikes even offer cargo bikes for employees!
  • Encourage carpooling initiatives: Depending on the location of a company, public transport may not always be an option. In this case, you should encourage the development of car sharing initiatives among employees to limit the negative environmental impact. Take a look at our selection of car sharing solutions in Austria: Eloop, Caruso Carsharing, MO.Point or flo MOBIL.
  • Encourage the use of green mobility: You can develop a reward system to encourage your employees to prefer clean mobility alternatives. There are already some solutions to help you with this, e.g. Ummadum has developed a concept to reward employees for using sustainable mobility.
  • Limit the number of flights: Commit to using the plane only if there is no viable train connection to the destination, and only travel if the event or meeting cannot be held online.

3. make the remaining traffic sustainable:
  • Convert your company car fleet to e-mobility: If a vehicle needs to be replaced and its purpose cannot be covered by bicycle or train, promote the purchase of an electric alternative. In Austria, your company can receive a subsidy of up to € 5,000 for each electric vehicle purchased. Furthermore, electric cars are not subject to the Austrian NoVA and there is no motor-related insurance tax. Even if an employee uses the employer's electric car for private purposes, no tax has to be paid on it. The employer also does not incur any ancillary wage costs for the benefit in kind. You can find out more about the Austrian subsidy for electric vehicles here!
  • Install charging stations for your electric fleet: If you use e-cars, you need electricity. Provide charging stations at the company location to make e-mobility possible in the first place. Find out about the Austrian subsidies for charging stations here!

If you want to contribute to the transition of the mobility sector to net zero but don't know how to get started, Glacier is happy to help. Get in touch with us here or contact us at hello@glacier.eco.

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