New FIDIC report calls for transformative change to deliver more sustainable transport

13 Jun 2024

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FIDIC’s latest State of the World report exploring the latest trends and innovative solutions shaping a sustainable future for global transportation was launched at a webinar on 13 June 2024.

The new report, Tomorrow’s Transportation and the Decarbonisation Challenge, takes an in-depth look at the impact of transportation on the environment, economies and societies with a particular focus on the challenges and innovative solutions in the aviation and shipping sectors.

Opening the webinar, Alfredo Ingletti, FIDIC vice president and chair of the Italian consultancy firm 3TI PROGETTI, said that the issue of decarbonising transport was a key challenge for the industry and that as the world intensifies its efforts to achieve sustainability goals and combat climate change, transportation would play a key role across all societies.

“From sustainable aviation fuels to eco-friendly ship designs, our new report explores transformational changes and discusses decarbonisation strategies, policy implications and cutting-edge technologies,” he said. “The new report will showcase real-world case studies, policy recommendations and the latest advancements around decarbonising transport. We hope that its contents will help to empower engineers, policymakers and stakeholders to drive transformative change in transportation infrastructure,” said Ingletti.

The line-up of industry panellists at the webinar included Charlotte Morton, chief executive at the World Biogas Association, Omar Moomen, director at Ibramar Shipping International, Helen Leadbetter, zero emissions flight and hydrogen challenge lead at the Civil Aviation Authority UK, Saleem Akhtar Farouqui, principal scientist biofuels division at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Indian Institute of Petroluem, Tarek Dajani, CEO at Jordan National Shipping Lines and Ajay Pradhan, president at C2S2 India.

Basma Eissa, FIDIC’s head of policy, ESG and sustainability and the author of the report, kicked off the webinar by outlining the five key recommendations contained in the report. These were to promote and adopt sustainable practices, leverage innovation and technology, to advocate for supportive policies, to foster cross-sectoral collaboration and for the industry to commit to continuous learning and development. There are amplified in more detail below.

Promote and adopt sustainable practices
The entire FIDIC community, including engineers, policymakers, industry leaders and stakeholders, should integrate sustainable practices into every phase of transportation projects. This includes adopting advanced biofuel technologies, synthetic fuels and energy-efficient designs to reduce carbon emissions across aviation, shipping, and marine sectors.

Leverage innovation and technology
Emphasise the importance of leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as digitalisation, IoT, AI and renewable energy solutions to enhance operational efficiency and sustainability. All members of the FIDIC community should advocate for and implement these innovative solutions.

Advocate for supportive policies
The FIDIC community should work closely with policymakers to create regulatory frameworks that include promoting policies that incentivise the use of sustainable aviation fuels, electrification in shipping and the development of eco-friendly port infrastructure. Whilst some of these may be transitional there will be other that will be enduring post 2050. No action is more dangerous than transitional action.

Foster cross-sectoral collaboration
Collaboration across sectors is crucial for achieving global decarbonisation goals. The FIDIC community is called to engage in partnerships with government bodies, industry stakeholders, academic institutions and non-governmental organisations to share knowledge, resources and best practices in sustainability.

Commit to continuous learning and development
To drive the transition towards sustainable transportation, a global initiative is needed to create a stable environment for developing and implementing transitional and future measures. This effort should focus on equipping both new and existing engineers with the necessary skills and knowledge. Training and educational initiatives must prioritize continuous learning and professional development through courses, webinars, and workshops focused on sustainability.

First panellist Charlotte Morton, chief executive at the World Biogas Association, elaborated on the global potential of biogas not only as a source of renewable energy but also as a significant player in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “You are looking at a global reduction of greenhouses gases of around 11% from using biogas,” she said. She also identified some of the key challenges currently impeding the growth of the biogas sector. She said that there was a suite of regulations as well as infrastructure that needed to be put in place to support the move towards biogas use. “We have to start thinking and working in a much more radical way, but we need to attract the funding to enable us to deliver and deliver at speed,” she said. Common shared standards and regulations globally would help the industry deliver more quickly, said Morton.

Second panellist Omar Moomen, director at Ibramar Shipping International, explained how shipping companies are adapting their operations in response to increasing regulatory pressures for lower emissions in the maritime industry. He said that fixed sail technologies were helping to reduce carbon emissions, as were the use of dual fuels by ships. Highlighting some of the sustainable marine projects currently underway in Egypt, he said that the country’s needs and approaches to sustainability in these projects differed from those in Europe and the northern hemisphere. Training and development was a critical need in an economy and a skills base that was not as developed as some others.

Helen Leadbetter, zero emissions flight and hydrogen challenge lead at the Civil Aviation Authority UK, outlined how she thought hydrogen would play a role in achieving zero emissions in aviation and looked at some of the main challenges to its widespread adoption. Asked about the regulatory and safety challenges that must be addressed as the aviation industry transitions to hydrogen fuel, she said that her organisation was working with the safety authorities to work out whether new standards were needed and how existing regulations might be adapted to deal with a more sustainable approach. They were also looking to learn from other industries that were using alternative fuels.

Fourth panellist Akhtar Farouqui, principal scientist biofuels division at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian Institute of Petroleum, outlined some of the latest developments in SAF technology in India and highlighted how are these innovations are being adapted for large-scale production. He also spoke about his work with SpiceJet and other airline operators and shared some insights into how these airlines are integrating sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) into their operations. There were challenges and opportunities, the chief of which was that there weren’t enough companies manufacturing SAFs and this would need to be resolved in the future.

Tarek Dajani, CEO at Jordan National Shipping Lines, talked about how Jordan National Shipping Lines was working towards reducing its carbon footprint. He made the point that all decisions and strategies needed to be made in a business context and there was a need to take a balanced approach while observing the need to maintain profitability. Timely delivery in the ports sector was absolutely crucial, he said, with optimal routes travelled at the right speed being really important too. So, it was a challenging environment facing the sector – and that’s before factoring in other safety threats that have arisen as a result of the geopolitical challenges affecting the world.

Final panellist Ajay Pradhan, president at C2S2 India, highlighted the significant role ports play in India’s economy and elaborated on the current sustainability initiatives being implemented at major Indian marine ports. There was significant pressure for action around sustainability in the development of new ports in India, he said, and there was extra challenge in terms of training and knowledge transfer to ensure that the industry had the skills that were needed.

Summing up the webinar, all the panellists highlighted the need for political leadership in the delivery of more sustainable and decarbonised transportation. This meant the right policy support in place and regulatory frameworks to support this. There were some positive signs in the commitments given at various COPs and other global climate events, but the world needed to move faster in order to make progress at the pace that was needed.

Click here to download the report, Tomorrow’s Transportation and the Decarbonisation Challenge.

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