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Green transport think tank urges transition to zero-carbon transport amid fuel crisis

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Green transport think tank urges transition to zero-carbon transport amid fuel crisis
Commuters queue for free bus rides from Philcoa to Cubao in Quezon City on March 30, 2021 due to limited public transportation amid the enhanced community quarantine.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — A green transportation think tank called for a transition from oil and gas production and a shift towards more viable zero-carbon options in the wake of the resulting oil price crisis.

In a statement sent to media, the Council for Decarbonising Transport in Asia said that the current fuel crisis exposed countries' vulnerabilities due to fuel importation restrictions, resulting in economic repercussions that also affected public transport supply on the roads.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put Asian countries in jeopardy, causing inflation and another round of price increases for fuel products. The Philippines’ inflation rate at 5.4% is at its highest in over three years. Oil prices soared by more than 6% in India, touching their highest since 2008. Vietnam’s petrol prices have reached a new record and marked its seventh price hike since April,” the council said.

“The fuel crisis's impact on Asian countries exposes their dependence on fossil fuels. If countries cannot keep up with high fuel costs, sectors will not be able to function as expected, which will have economic consequences,” the 14-member council composed of experts in mobility and transportation also warned.

Set up under the NDC Transport Initiative for Asia, the group said that the current fuel crisis should be incentivizing shifts in the transportation system.

“Now is the best time to act, and we expect carbon emissions from transport will increase in Asia by another 48% come 2050. A decarbonized transport industry is possible by mid-century if the mobility needs of all are met with zero-carbon options, integrating all modes seamlessly, efficiently, and convenient,” the council said in its report.

The report also touched on the importance of tackling freight to transform transport, integrating planning, and building on diverse mobility options, as it noted that solutions in freight are doable and pointed to Japan and Vietnam’s current action plans.

“The Japanese government is demonstrating the use of zero-emission ships such as hydrogen or ammonia-fuelled ships. Vietnam proposes restructuring freight transport towards a reduction in the share of road transport and an increase in the share of rail and inland waterways for freight transport. Meanwhile, Fiji has set a target to reduce emissions from domestic maritime shipping by 40% until 2030, ” the Council cited in its report.

The report also addressed blind spots in improving the sector, including rationalization of freight, passenger, and cross-cutting concerns, citing politics and lack of coordination at the heart of inaction.

“While some Asian countries are significant oil producers, most are net importers, with consumption outstripping production. In this way, the phasing-out of fossil fuels in transport will reduce GHG emissions and import dependencies."

The council said that as urban development pressures planners to ensure safe, healthy, and timely mobility options, they should first put forward inclusivity and equitability to ensure a just transition to zero-carbon options that will not disenfranchise marginalized sectors. 

“The tools and technologies are already available to support the long-term transformation to a zero-carbon transport system. We urgently need to adopt these innovations at least policy-wise to make zero carbon emissions a reality,” the Council concluded.

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