“Transport is about providing access”

We asked three questions to José Viegas, Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum and one of the speakers at this year´s Volvo Group Sustainability Forum.
José Viegas, Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum.
José Viegas, Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum.

How important is transport for the world’s ability to reach the United Nation’s new Sustainable Development Goals?
– Transport is about providing access. Good transport solutions make it easy for kids to go to school, for the elderly to see a doctor, for entrepreneurs to bring their goods to market, and it is quite positive that this is explicitly recognised in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The downside is the transport emissions. Traffic is responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. To find ways to provide better mobility with a smaller carbon footprint is crucial to make development environmentally sustainable.

How can corporations like the Volvo Group contribute to the development of sustainable transport?
– The transport industry will be well advised to make the idea of sustainability part of its DNA. New business models already evolve around more efficient use of resources. Motor vehicles are hugely inefficient – a normal car is parked 23 out of 24 hours. Even when they drive, they take up enormous amounts of road space. So ideas like truck platooning, where roads are used more efficiently and goods can be moved with a smaller CO2 footprint, are clearly the future.

Do you believe there will be a sufficient agreement signed at the Paris Climate Conference COP21?
– Who can really say that at this point? What seems fairly certain is that an agreement will not meet the high hopes of many. Compromise somewhere in the middle is how intergovernmental negotiations tend to work. But there are some signs that we might get an agreement that will not be at the lowest end of expectations. The pressure is on to deliver real progress. And if progress is correctly monitored afterwards, new, more binding agreements will be reached in the future if they prove necessary.

About José Viegas

José Viegas has been Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum at the OECD since August 2012. A Portuguese national, Mr. Viegas has had a distinguished career in academia and in the private sector before joining the ITF. As Professor of Transport at the Technical University of Lisbon and chairman of consultancy firm TIS.pt, he has advised governments and international institutions on key transport projects and policies.

About the Volvo Group Sustainability Forum

A few days before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, COP21, the Volvo Group gathers leaders and stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society for the annual Volvo Group Sustainability Forum in Stockholm. The Forum is led by Professor Johan Rockström and the aim is to stimulate broader collaboration between business and society to accelerate climate actions.