A galaxy of global leaders gathered at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly called Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, are discussing on achieving the world’s collective climate goals as agreed under the Paris Agreement. The transport sector, which is one of the top polluters globally, is on the top of their agenda.

While the transition towards low-carbon transport is obviously a priority, there is a need to develop solutions that also meet the other goals of transport, including access for all, efficiency, and safety.

So, what’s the promise given by major stakeholders in the transport sector?

The Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UTIP), an international association of public transport, expects COP27 to bring sustainable transport to the forefront of this year’s climate talks. COP27 can pave the way for accelerating action which can provide direct and cross-cutting impact on climate change, pollution, quality of living and efficiency, the association says.

Ambitious but realistic goals

Ahead of COP27, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has committed to reduce GHG emissions from shipping. The organisation’s strategic plan for 2018-2023 firmly supports the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Developments Goals and identifies them as one of IMO’s main directions – the need to develop ambitious and realistic solutions to minimise shipping’s contribution to air pollution in response to climate change.

Shipping contributes to almost 3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. It is, however, critical for the global economy with about 90 per cent of trade carried on ships. For the industry to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target in-line with the Paris Agreement, the sector must meet its 2030 breakthrough goal of having scalable zero-emission fuels that make up 5 per cent of the international shipping fuel mix, according to the World Economic Forum’s website.

The IMO’s commitment is to reduce carbon intensity per transport work by at least 40 per cent by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70 per cent by 2050, and total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50 per cent by 2050.

To anticipate the uptake of alternative fuels in the near future, a correspondence group was established by MEPC 78 to develop draft guidelines on the lifecycle GHG intensity of marine fuels (LCA Guidelines). This covers various issues including fuel production pathways and sustainability criteria issues.

In October this year, the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s assembly reached a historic agreement on a global aspirational goal of “net-zero carbon emissions by 2050” in support of the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal.

SAF commitments

From COP26, a major decision was taken by a group of nations to sign the International Aviation Climate Ambition Declaration. Its key aims are to ensure the maximum effectiveness of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Global airlines have shown commitments on SAF in the run-up to the COP27 with British Airways, Air France-KLM and Qatar Airways leading the way. British Airways, LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea Technologies have signed an agreement to accelerate Project Speedbird initiative to develop cost-effective SAF for commercial use.

Air France-KLM signed multi-year contracts with SAF providers Neste and DG Fuels for a total volume of 1.6 million tons. These contracts represent a first step by the Group towards achieving its 10 per cent SAF incorporation targets by 2030 and will cover approximately 3 of those 10 per cent. First deliveries are expected in 2023, the airline said.

Hopes are high among various stakeholders that COP27 will come out with a strong roadmap for a sustainable global transport system.