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Innovation, partnerships and transparency for a carbon-neutral future

How can transport providers become carbon neutral?

Innovation, partnerships and transparency for a carbon-neutral future

March 10, 2022

The lion’s share of the carbon footprint caused by tourism is in the journey itself. A high-level panel with sustainability experts under the heading “It's the Journey that Matters: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustainable Mobility“ discussed the opportunities and challenges of making future journeys sustainable and carbon-neutral. Two of the panel members, Fatima da Gloria de Sousa, vice president, Sustainability at Air France-KLM, and Dr. Thomas Becker, vice president, Sustainability, Mobility at BMW, emphasised the need for partnerships and innovative technologies. Two other participants, Andrea Koepfer, senior director of Communications, Public Affairs & Responsibility at FlixMobility, and Sebnam Erzan, head of Travel Sustainability at Google, stressed the importance of information and transparency.

According to Andrea Koepfer, technical innovations were not ultimately necessary in order to drive sustainability forward. “A bus journey from Berlin to Paris releases only one-fifth of the carbon emissions of a car trip with an internal combustion engine and one-tenth that of a commercial flight.“ With every ticket purchased, FlixMobility also gives travellers the option to offset the carbon emissions of their bus journey. “Five to ten per cent of our customers make use of it. We would gladly see more passengers doing so and are wondering how to increase the numbers. But we don’t want to commit our customers, as that is not part of our corporate culture“, Koepfer said.

In order for travellers to make a sound decision on how they want to journey they need information on the individual carbon footprint of their type of travel and route. According to Sebnam Erzan, last year Google included the option of displaying the carbon emissions for a specific flight whenever one searched for an air fare. “Lots of people want to be part of the sustainability drive but have no idea how to go about it. By offering these services we want to help them make sustainable decisions“, Erzan said.

Dr. Thomas Becker emphasised that his company was not only increasing its output of electric and hybrid cars, but also working on using more recycled materials in car production in the future. The company was also working with cities to develop innovative concepts for operating hybrid vehicles – in the future these could automatically switch over to electric drive when driving in inner cities.

Fatima da Gloria de Sousa pointed to the fact that her company was dependent on what aircraft manufacturers had to offer. Electric or fuel cell driven aircraft had to be developed first for an airline to use these technologies. However, Air France-KLM was not simply waiting for future innovations, but working closely with manufacturers to achieve breakthroughs. The airline was also working with the producers of aviation fuels. “We are helping new companies and partners to enter the market, as we want to make use of every possible opportunity there is“, Fatima da Gloria de Sousa said.