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Interview with Henrik Hololei, European Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport

Interview with Henrik Hololei, European Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport
15 . Mar . 2022

The European Commission is strongly committed to developing and promoting sustainable mobility. Its objectives include incentives for the use of alternative fuels (LPG, methane, and biofuels) and the development of new fueling stations and charging points for electric vehicles. In this respect, the virtual interview below, which you can read together with the others in this issue of Energy Journal, has Henrik Hololei, the European Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport, as the protagonist.

Henrik Hololei is the European Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport. Mr. Hololei is an economist by training and holds degrees from Tallinn Technical University and Aarhus University in Denmark. He held various positions in the Estonian Government Office between 1995 and 2004.

With the new European Green Deal, the automotive sector is once again in the commission’s firing line. Ambitious goals are set for 2030 and 2050. Reducing 90% of CO2 emissions by 2050 is a key objective. Do you think it is feasible achievement? What are some of the initiatives, currently in place, working in that direction?

“Transport accounts for one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, which is why it is necessary to provide incentives for industry decarbonization. Initiatives in this department are, in fact, in line with the new EU strategy to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon-emission, as per the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. At the same time, sustainable mobility is a fundamental element to improve the quality of life of all European citizens. The transport sector is already taking the first step towards a low-carbon economy. The objective by 2030 is to reduce emissions by 30% compared to the levels of 2005: this is a feasible achievement, but it requires a diverse and collective effort”.

Source: The Parliament Magazine, “Investment in smart mobility keeps EU’s economy moving”  (https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/investment-smart-mobility-keeps-eus-economy-moving)

Aside from the impact on air pollution and CO2 emissions, sustainable and electric mobility are bound to play a crucial role, in broader terms, in the lives of million Europeans. What do you consider as the primary benefits for European citizens regarding green mobility?

“Such policies will make Europe more competitive, as long there is cooperation at all government levels: local, national and European. If we want to strengthen our economy, then the savings we can make by investing in smart and sustainable mobility can play a significant role. Active travel boosts our physical activity, which could save the EU over €80bn a year in healthcare costs. Conversely, traffic congestion costs the EU €100bn per year. In fact, introducing and promoting new measures in favor of low-emission vehicles, because smart and sustainable mobility will give our economies a huge boost. Investing in smart and sustainable mobility contributes to job creation and growth in Europe: to give an example, the number of jobs in the cycling sector could reach one million if we double the number of people riding bicycles; currently, 650.000 Europeans have a full-time job in this sector. Overall, investments in smart and sustainable ways of transport in our cities does not only have economic advantages, but also improves our quality of life”.

Source: The Parliament Magazine, “Investment in smart mobility keeps EU’s economy moving”  (https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/investment-smart-mobility-keeps-eus-economy-moving)

In order to achieve such ambitious goal, it is important to improve the technology utilized in the mobility sector. In this respect, what are some of the most important digital innovations?

“The main elements of our strategy include making the most of digital technologies, speeding up the deployment of advanced biofuels and renewable electricity and moving towards zero-emission vehicles. The implementation of ICT solutions is key in promoting smart and sustainable mobility, and also serves to demonstrate that investing in smart and sustainable mobility contributes to job creation and growth in Europe”.

Source: The Parliament Magazine, “Investment in smart mobility keeps EU’s economy moving”  (https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/investment-smart-mobility-keeps-eus-economy-moving)

Speaking of technology innovation, what are some of the most cutting-edge developments that could bring relevant transformations in the mobility sector?

“I wanted to add that, as demonstrated by the European Mobility Week, European cities are encouraging the transition to cycling, walking, public transport and the use of low-emission vehicles. Furthermore, local shared mobility services such as bike-sharing and car-pooling are now well established. Last year alone, 5.657 permanent measures were implemented by 799 local authorities. This is the right path, we just need to continue on it. These habits must be promoted at all levels of government, amongst local administrations and all the other parties that are involved in urban mobility, from civil society organizations to local media, to schools and academic institutions”.

Source: The Parliament Magazine, “Investment in smart mobility keeps EU’s economy moving” (https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/investment-smart-mobility-keeps-eus-economy-moving)

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