Dear Santa… This year, I would like greener transport


cross country skiing

Dear Santa,

This year, I don’t want the latest smartphone, or a pile of trendy clothing. What I want is for us to collectively react to the global warning issued earlier this year by 15,000 scientists from around the world, because very soon, it’ll be too late.

The numbers paint a bleak picture. Over the last 25 years, the per capita availability of freshwater has declined by 26% and fossil-fuel carbon dioxide emissions have increased sharply, thus increasing the average annual global temperatures.

Obviously, I know that there is no one answer for everything in this modern world. If the solution was as simple as banning cars, we would have done it already. But we simply cannot remain idle. Since transportation is among the top CO2 emitters, we must make it our standard-bearer for CO2 reduction.

I am certain that I’m not the only one who cares about this, because 4,000 leaders from academia, politics, cities and business came together last June in Montréal for Movin’On, a business conference whose mission is to bring sustainable mobility to life. For two and a half days, they collaborated and initiated concrete and actionabale solutions to reach common sustainability goals. Patrick Oliva, co-founder of the Paris Process for Mobility and Climate, has identified 7 priorities for transforming transport by 2050.

So, dear Santa, this year, I only have 7 requests on my list. But these are not items that you can find at the local corner store!

  1. Foster synergistic urban transformation to fundamentally change the way we move, especially within cities.

In 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. As such, over 6 billion urbanites will require efficient, rapid, and sustainable transportation. It is therefore essential that public and municipal authorities rapidly deploy coherent actions to prepare our cities for the upcoming population boost.

City works

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies published an analysis of Copenhagen’s efforts to become carbon-neutral by 2025.

The new Mayor of Montréal, Valérie Plante, promises to implement several measures to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels on her territory and intends to implement the measures of the 2013-2020 Montréal community’s GHG reduction plan.

  1. Implement a low-carbon energy supply strategy rooted in the energy sector, as we’ll need to replace traditional sources.

Have you noticed that the number of electric charging stations significantly increased in recent years? We must move forward with this program and increase the number of hydrogen charging station as well, in order to let users decide.

  1. Design an improved modal system to create a flexible, efficient and seamless network of transit options.

We are in the era of globalization. Even more than with telecommunications, we need to improve cross-border mobility. How? We can start by studying the potential of large-scale projects like the China Belt & Road Initiative.

Fun fact

This summer, the Port Franc trading house launched the first decarbonized transatlantic commerce route between France and Québec, thanks to the support of the Government of Québec.

  1. Defragment and shorten supply chains by reducing the physical distance between suppliers and end users.

Products undergo a multitude of steps before reaching the consumer. Therefore, along with promoting lower-carbon transport options, fundamental steps need to be taken toward rationalizing supply chains and reducing overall transport distances. Companies should seek local suppliers, for instance, or defragment certain operational processes, such as manufacturing semifinished products in one location and then completing the assembly elsewhere.

  1. Transform work to reduce the number and duration of individual trips with new structures like telecommuting.

Allowing employees to work remotely helps companies meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards, while preserving air quality and reducing the number of cars on the road. In addition, a study conducted by the Université de Montréal found a commute of just 20 minutes can be so stressful it can cause professional burnout.

  1. Develop tailored solutions for non-urban populations.

Even though most key transformations in the transport sector will be driven by cities, a successful transition will necessarily need to involve rural (non-urban) areas as well. Let’s face it, communal mobility solutions like public transit aren’t exactly the countryside’s best feature: it’s the car, or nothing. We must devote large spaces to capturing solar or wind energy and enable  e-mobility to become a part of the solution. Widespread access to e-mobility will notably optimize car-sharing and carpooling.

  1. Invest in adaptability to ensure that cities are ready to react to extreme weather conditions.

With hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaging the Caribbean and the recent exceptional climatic events in Portugal and Ireland, the annual price tag of natural disasters continues to rise. Transport systems worldwide are vulnerable to the increasing impacts of a changing climate. The ever-growing number of such incidents in both the developed and developing world is forcing us all to invest in adapting our current mobility infrastructure.

Thank you Santa, I’m counting on you!