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Global policy framework to enhance transport connectivity in spotlight

Passenger transport, freight demand to triple in 2050, but disruptive developments could curb CO2 emissions

LEIPZIG, Germany -- Seeking to set standards to improve transport connectivity around the world and address concerted efforts on decreasing carbon emissions, a three-day forum was kicked off in the German city of Leipzig with more than 1,000 delegates from 70 countries.

At the International Transport Forum, dubbed as Davos of Transport, around 40 ministers gathered to discuss a wide range of topics from vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity to new trade routes. South Korea holds the presidency of this year’s summit. Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee, however, was absent, citing internal issues. The politician-turned-minister has been facing demands to stop possible strikes by bus drivers and controversy building over the government’s plan to build new satellite city. Vice Minister Kim Jeong-ryeol has replaced her role for this year’s summit.The focus of the summit is transport connectivity for regional integration, said the ITF organizing committee. 

Korea is the second Asian country to hold the presidency of the summit that has 59 member countries. The focus of the summit is transport connectivity for regional integration aimed at bringing balanced development around the world, Kim said.

“Technological advancement in ICT and transport sectors have strengthened regional connectivity but it would also bring technological imbalance in different regions and countries, in regard to the quality and speed of such development,” the vice minister said.
“The role of ITF is to mediate such changes for balanced development, prevent confrontation between the regions and seek ways to coexist in the era of the ‘fourth industrial evolution.’”

(International Transport Forum)
(International Transport Forum)

The meetings at ministerial leves will be accompanied by programs focused on policy debates among ministers, business leaders, heads of international organization and industry associations, it added.

“The Leipzig Summit is all about global dialogue for better transport. Today, policymakers must set guidelines in the face of fast, profound and often disruptive changes,” said ITF Secretary-General Kim Young-tae.

“Transport connectivity will improve by understanding how to harness digital connectivity and also by connecting minds.”

In a report, the ITF predicted global demand for transport will grow dramatically over the next three decades. Passenger transport will increase nearly threefold to 2050, from 44 trillion to 122 trillion passenger-kilometers, it said in the ITF Transport Outlook 2019.

Demand for global freight will also triple. ITF which also acts as a think tank, however, suggested that digitalization and increased connectivity will significantly change the transport sector.

“The massive use of shared mobility, for instance, could halve vehicle-kilometers in cities and reduce urban transport CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2050,” the report said. Short-haul flights, if electrified, would lead to a 55 percent drop in domestic aviation emissions while setting new trade routes could have a big impact for logistics chains and transport infrastructure, it said.

Taking a combination of disruptive development in transport sector, such as restricting private cars while promoting shared mobility services and autonomous vehicles, carbon emission from urban transport could be reduced by 73 percent in 2050, it predicted. When new technologies in logistics are applied for enhanced efficiency, freight-related CO2 emissions will go down by 60 percent in 2050, it added, while urging policymakers to set more ambitious decision to foster innovation and curb transport emissions.

In a message to ministers, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged ministers to address health, environmental, social and economic impacts of the transport sector, stressing that the multilateral agency is ready to promote sustainable mobility for all.

By Cho Chung-un, Korea Herald correspondent