Our Event “Generation Z and Zero Emission Transport” Discussed The Way Forward to Mass Sustainable Mobility

Our event “Generation Z and Zero-Emission Transport”, that took place on December 5th at the Benelux House in Brussels, aimed to debate how we can reach a mass sustainable mobility model fit for the needs of younger generations. The event was attended by policymakers, industry representative and academic experts. They were joined by enthusiastic students who gave their views on what mobility solutions should offer.  Our speakers covered the various issues of the debate, from local and regional transports to the European vision for the future of the sector.

The event was opened by  Luuk Blom, Deputy Secretary-General at the Benelux House, who welcomed participants and gave a few words on the commitment of the Benelux region to shift towards emission-free mobility.

He was followed by our Keynote Speaker Clara de la Torre, Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) at the European Commission.

In her speech, she emphasized the many efforts of the European Commission to deliver on a climate-friendly agenda in all sectors, transports of course included. She reminded participants that, according to Eurobarometer surveys, younger generations see the urgent need for a response to the climate crisis. Addressing climate is our priority. Our Green Deal for Europe is a reform of our society with so many new possibilities she followed on referring to the new plan of the European Commission to respond to this crisis and decarbonise the European economy. 

Her address was followed by the first panel dedicated to the future of regional and local transport. Our first panellist was Bart Jacobs of the New Motion, a provider of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. He was joined by Athanasios Moysiadis, EU Public Policy Officer at Uber. Last but not least,  Ghislaine Huizinga, Advisor Air Quality at the City of Amsterdam, joined to provide the input from the public sector. They were joined by Julia Cora, a young graduate committed to the goal of zero-emission transport.

The panellists engaged in various topics based on the input offered by the questions of Jayson Dong, AVERE Policy Manager and moderator of the panel, and by Julia. They started with the future of private mobility, which, according to Mr Jacobs,  would necessarily need to be electric to become zero-emission. The discussion then naturally verged on the policy and tools used by local government to quench transport emission, with Mrs Huizinga, quoting from her experience in the capital of the Netherlands, low emissions zones, a good network of EV charging infrastructure and widespread communication of the benefits of owning an electric car. They also covered the rise of shared mobility and how it would fit in the picture of sustainable transport, which would only be possible with a fleet of zero-emission vehicles. In reference to this comment, Mr Moysiadis referred to news services that had been set up based on the feedback of customers.

The session concluded with an animated Q&A with the audience, composed of different generations, on more key issues, such as the role of different mobility solutions in cities and the different approach to the charging infrastructures on the market and how they all need support from the right policy environment.

Following a coffee break, the event continued with a second panel dedicated to the long-term vision for sustainable transport in Europe. the panel was composed by Cathy Macharis, Professor of Mobility and Logistics at the Logistics and Automotive Technology Research Centre (MOBI) of the VUB, and Mark Preston, Policy Officer of the NGO Bellona. They were moderated by our Secretary-General Philippe Vangeel.

The panel took a broader view of the future of transports, not just looking at the specific factors in local realities, but at the broader approach required for a continental shift. Prof Macharis focused on the fact that sustainable mobility is about the complementarity of different solutions. She argued that new business models and technologies need to take this into account to be successful. Mr Preston focused more on the needed European policies for the shift to zero-emission and in particular to the taxation and incentive systems, which need to be re-calibrated to  properly favour sustainable mobility.

Once again the audience engaged very actively with our panel, asking questions on the value of off-setting activities for CO2 emissions, like planting trees, and the steps required by the European Union to implement new policies, for exampe starting from local best practices that can act as inspirations for a broader approach.

At the conclusion of the panel, Jan Molema, Director of the Benelux House, offered some closing remarks. He stated how the debate showed the many ways we can progress and remarked that he hopes to see the discussion ongoing in the future. He left the audience with one last hopeful statement: “The policy of the EU Green Deal can work together with the market and with the support of younger generations to deliver zero-emission transport“.

Our participants were then invited to join in a networking drink to continue the discussion informally.

We look forward to engaging with them and with you at our events next year, the most important of which will be the AVERE E-mobility Conference 2020 (AEC2020) on the 9th and 10th of November.