TRA2022: A call for innovative infrastructures by 2030

The Transport Research Arena (TRA2022) has gathered experts from around the world in Lisbon to discuss the foremost challenges on the path to decarbonise transport by 2050, in line with the goals set by the European Green Deal of making Europe the first carbon neutral continent.

On the third day, infrastructure is in the spotlight. Building on the concerns expressed on Monday about transport infrastructure not being able to keep up with the technological advancements that can support the sector's green transition, the experts revealed the most difficult obstacles that have to be overcome and put forward some solutions.

We need to accelerate the transfer from road to rail and boat, which we believe is the best short-term solution for reducing CO2 emissions. It is not the final solution, but it is a step in the right direction,” flagged Pietro D’Arpa, Vice-president Supply Chain Procter & Gamble Europe.

Traffic on Europe’s roads and railways is increasing while much of the continent’s transport infrastructure is ageing and facing new climate-related challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t help. “Coming out of this pandemic, the way in which transport and urban areas are used, has fundamentally changed. People started working remotely more, so the car has become the most desirable mode of travelling in a post covid world,” explained Alasdair Cain, Director of Research, Development and Technology Coordination at the US DoT.

What about energy efficiency? "Despite the increase in energy efficiency, this is not sufficient to cover the huge number of kilometres people are travelling,” explained João Caetano, President of the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport.

At the same time, transport infrastructure is now facing new challenges and opportunities from energy transition and digitalization. “I don't think digitalisation is the fundamental change we need, decarbonisation is. If you leave the system as it is and digitalise it, emissions will still grow, so decarbonisation is the key,” concluded Mr. Caetano.

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