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José Domínguez Abascal, Spanish Secretary of State for Energy, at ESADE: ‘Some 25% of emissions come from transport; we need to change our mobility model’

The seventh Global Annual Energy Meeting, entitled ‘The Energy Transition and the Future of Transport’, also featured talks by Javier Solana, President of ESADEgeo; Francisco Fonseca, Head of the European Commission's representation in Madrid; Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission; and Julia Hildermeier, Associate at the EU’s Regulatory Assistance Project

José Dominguez Abascal, Spanish Secretary of State for Energy, has pointed to the need to change mobility in big cities. ‘Some 25% of our current emissions are the consequence of traffic pollution and this is growing faster than any other type of emission’, he said in his talk at the seventh edition of the Global Annual Energy Meeting, entitled ‘The Energy Transition and the Future of Transport’. The event, which was held in the campus of ESADE in Madrid, was jointly organised by ESADEgeo and the European Commission, with the collaboration of KIC InnoEnergy, BCG and Aspen Institute España. The Secretary of State said it is time to take advantage of the improvements in electric vehicles, which ‘are becoming competitive’. Javier Solana, President of ESADEgeo, acknowledged that ‘transport is responsible for approximately a quarter of all global CO2 emissions. It is also extremely important for our economies. For this reason, I am delighted we have chosen the topic of energy and transport for our seventh annual Energy Day’. Francisco Fonseca, Head of the European Commission's representation in Madrid, also welcomed the celebration of this Annual Energy Meeting.

To offer strategic vision from the energy sector, David Guerra, Projects and mobility Director at Naturgy, and Antonio Calçada, Marketing Director (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Mexico) at Repsol, talked about the reality of the car industry in Europe and the road towards zero emissions. ‘The landscape is changing completely. All sorts of players are trying to enter the industry. Different business models and realities are coming together’, said Antonio Calçada, who added that in the coming years: ‘there will be complementary sources of energy and different types of mobility’. David Guerra talked about air quality in cities and the role of natural gas and stated: ‘air pollution is becoming a major concern, and natural gas vehicles can cut CO2 emissions and noise’. 

So, who will be the winners? ‘Everybody is looking for opportunities. The economy is growing and the world is demanding a new model of mobility. This brings us the opportunity to look for efficiency. Digital is bringing new opportunities for business and companies that work efficiently and do not depend on subsidies can win. Everybody can have a piece of the cake’, said Calçada.

The future of transport in the EU

The EU's public policy approach was discussed by Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission. ‘The Commission has adopted over the last year a more accessible energy model, but we still need to optimise our transport system and promote the use of more efficient transport. At the same time, there are some limits, such as the infrastructure development across Europe, and the need for a new energy market design’, he said. The Commission believes the EU needs to be technology neutral, and be open to and embrace all policy options. In the future, the EU’s transport will be safer, smarter and more sustainable – but also more competitive.

In the same panel, Diego Pavía, CEO of KIC InnoEnergy, added: ‘by 2020 we will have 80 choices of different electric cars. Demand is there, and supply is there too’, said Pavía, who believes that Europe can capture a new market worth €250 billion a year by 2025. At the same time, this will generate a positive social impact: four to five million jobs in Europe. ‘Demand for electric vehicles is going to grow quickly and the European car industry requires security of supply (batteries) and an ability to differentiate’, concluded Pavía. 

Julia Hildermeier, Associate at the EU’s Regulatory Assistance Project, talked about policy principles for decarbonising transport and energy in Europe. ‘Policies should meet one or more of three criteria – to save customers money long-term, reduce environmental impacts,  and enable better grid management – while making sure to avoid damage to those principles they do not explicitly aim to foster’. Hildermeier also said there is another way of approaching mobility: ‘Millennials have an alternative mind. You need to offer new models and solutions, and digitalisation is driving changes in business models. Mobility services like rent sharing are more efficient. These are good options in big cities and we need to think more broadly. Decarbonizing energy and transport must go hand in hand. And electric vehicles can in fact be a big opportunity for the electricity sector, because they offer grid flexibility".

Technological visions from key transport sectors

Wilfried Lemmens, Managing Director of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association, said it was very important to create a clean environment for future generations. He warned that the European shipping industry is too fragmented and the gap between different actors must be bridged to ensure the development of an evidence-based policy. ‘This will enable us to reduce CO2 emissions in the most cost-effective way’, he added. To Lemmens, the biggest game-changer going forward would be the development of new fuels for ships. 

Eduardo Domínguez, Head of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) at Airbus, talked about the aviation sector. According to the projections of sales at Airbus, air traffic will double in the next 15 years. Consequently, despite the significant efficiency gains that have been made the sector’s absolute emissions are still growing. In this respect, Airbus investment in new technologies will make a great contribution. Domínguez said that electrification is coming to aeronautics and investment by Airbus in new technologies will make a great contribution. ‘The hybridisation landscape will change aviation in the coming years. Some 50% of companies will collapse and the other 50% will consolidate themselves in this transition’, he added.

Mario Armero, Executive Vice-President of ANFAC (Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers) added that decarbonising the car industry will not be easy, but ‘now is the time for the car industry to move forward. For us, globalisation is a good thing, but we also face big challenges in mobility. The car industry represents 19.5% of CO2 emissions, and so we are part of the problem and the solution’, said Armero.

The seventh Global Annual Energy Meeting, entitled ‘The Energy Transition and the Future of Transport’, also featured talks by Iván Martén, Senior Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group; Ángel Saz-Carranza, Director of ESADEgeo; and Marie Vandendriessche, Senior Researcher at ESADEgeo. 

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