GEF 5: Ralph Sims, Coordinating Lead Author, Working Group 3 – Transport, IPCC

Ralph Sims, Coordinating Lead Author, Working Group 3 – Transport, IPCC talks about the progress that is being made in the transport sector to transition to more sustainable technology.

Sims explains the sector is predicted to grow rapidly for the rest of the century as more and more people want to travel, but the question is, how to decouple growth from the harmful emissions that will be released and contribute to climate change.

Some of the solutions, he explains, involve reducing our activity, such as increasing teleconference calls, using peak cars and communicating more through IT, and improving the efficiency of our vehicles, for example, using less fuel, replacing fuel altogether with electric vehicles or using “good” biofuels to power our vehicles instead.

However, Sims explains that behavioural issues remain the biggest challenge for the transport sector as altering people’s choices regarding travelling “from A to B” is the hardest to amend.

Nevertheless, building the right infrastructure to encourage people to walk or cycle more – such as building more footpaths and cycle ways – will persuade people to use alternative modes of transport, he says.

In China, for example, where air pollution is one of the biggest problems facing its major cities, Sims says focussing on the co-benefits of switching to electric cars will encourage the uptake of sustainable technology. In fact, he says mitigating climate change is a co-benefit of improving people’s health in cities.

Sims concludes by saying he believes that as technology improves, the role of IT will be the key to bringing electric cars into the mainstream in the future.

Induction charging, for example, has been a breakthrough in the industry and is already in use in Masdar city in the United Arab Emirates. Sims says the technology could launch into the mainstream within a decade.