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ITF 2010 forum deliberates future of global transport

ITF 2010 forum deliberates future of global transport

Growing population, increasing urbanization and higher incomes will boost demand for transport and put great pressure on transport systems around the globe. This is one of the key findings of "Transport Outlook," an annual study published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD.
According to the ITF study, capacity will be hard pressed to expand as rapidly as demand. Transport systems will hence be required to operate much more efficiently in the future.
"Transport Outlook 2010" was presented by ITF Secretary General Jack Short on the first day of the ITF's 2010 Forum event in Leipzig, Germany, which brought together ministers and senior decision makers from 52 ITF member countries every year to debate strategic issues in global mobility, transport and logistics. This year's forum, which concluded on May 28, is headlined as "Transport and Innovation: Unleashing the Potential."
According to research by the ITF/OECD's Joint Transport Research Centre, the current crisis has had a relatively great impact on trade and transport than previous economic downturns. This is reflected in very large volume and price effect, especially in freight transport: Trade fell by about 20%, according to the CPB World Trade Volume Index, dry bulk shipping rates fell dramatically by a factor of 8 from 2007 to 2008.
Car ownership and car use appear to be levelling off in advanced economies. This is not necessarily saturation, but reflects high and uncertain energy prices, lower and uncertain incomes, a switch to faster modes like air travel or high speed rail.
Air passenger transport is the fastest growing transport mode. The ITF researchers expect that volumes will triple by 2050 as in 2010 - a figure substantially more conservative than that given by the airline industry. The higher levels will only be reached if China and other Asian markets liberalize deeply with Open Skies agreements.
Transport growth will have considerable impact on future CO2 emissions. Stabilizing greenhouse emissions from light-duty vehicles alone will require fuel economy to roughly double. Car emissions would have to attain 90g/km in 2050 as a global average.
Demand management in transport can help to reduce emissions. It is also badly needed to address other transport related problems, such as congestion, air pollution, and noise. But the ITF experts do not see it as a primary tool for curbing emission growth: Firstly, changes on the scale needed to curb CO2 emissions are likely unfeasible or economically undesirable. Secondly, technological innovation provides better ways to reach climate change targets.
In the view of ITF researchers, optimizing fuel economy needs to be the core strategy for transport-related CO2 emissions reduction in the next two decades. Nonetheless, the energy base of transport needs to be transformed if renewed growth of emissions after 2050 is to be avoided.
"Policy support for this lengthy process must start now," said Short, adding that "innovation is the key." He said "we need it in all areas: to get the most out of the tried and tested technologies, and to open new paths that can make transport cleaner, safer, more accessible and more efficient."
Welcoming the participants to the annual meeting, Short said the title for this year's event, "Transport and Innovation: Unleashing the Potential," was carefully chosen.
"Despite the enormous achievements in the sector - greater speed, efficiency, environmental performance, safety, security and access - users and society are demanding ever more from transport. And we undoubtedly have the potential to do more, but this will increasingly require new thinking, policies and actions," he said.
"Transport is changing. Technologies and service are improving in numerous ways, and new innovations are coming on stream, such as GPS and information systems for users, safety advances like airbags and ABS, and new generations of larger and more efficient vehicles, ships and planes. But the pace is often too slow," Short said.
"The 2010 Forum takes place at a time when transport is facing extraordinary challenges. The global economic crisis continues to ravage transport operators, as well as their customers, users and staff. We need to exit from the crisis with our logistics and supply chains undamaged. We know that we must improve environmental performance, particularly with regard to climate change. The sector's virtual total dependence on oil is a huge strategic vulnerability.
"At the same time, the sector needs to improve performance by eliminating obstacles, reducing delays and providing capacity where needed. Major congestion points continue to damage our economies and cause enormous costs, and the ability to resolve this by building new infrastructure is limited," he continued.
He said transport exists to serve the needs of society. "To continue to do this efficiently and effectively in future will require new approaches. Furthermore, this will demand close collaboration and new forms of partnerships - between governments, across borders, with industry, between sectors, with civil society and user groups, and with the research community," he added.
The International Transport Forum is a strategic think tank for the transport sector. Each year, it brings together ministers from over 50 countries, along with leading decision makers from the private sector, civil society and research, to address transport issues of strategic importance.


Updated : 2021-10-25 18:26 GMT+08:00