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Dept moves towards implementation of Green Transport Strategy

11th July 2023

By: Cameron Mackay

Creamer Media Senior Online Writer

     

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Department of Transport (DoT) research and development chief director Themba Tenza has confirmed that the department is moving towards implementation of its Green Transport Strategy (GTS), which commits the country to significantly reducing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in the economy.

“Our emphasis now is on implementation, because the strategy has been present since 2018. We’ve made some moves towards implementation as a department, as well as a country," he told delegates attending the annual South African Transport Conference, which is being held from July 10 to 14 in Pretoria.

He pointed out that up until recently, government and the DoT had focused more on mitigation, particularly in terms of adapting to elements such as climate change and the impacts that the transport sector had on GHG emissions.

He also stressed that, in addition to climate change and the impacts it had, South Africa also had high levels of unemployment, poverty and income equality.

The GTS is also aimed at alleviating these socioeconomic challenges, similar to the South African Just Energy Transition, which is aimed at moving the country to more renewable-energy sources, while not exacerbating economic challenges and unemployment.

“We developed the GTS knowing that the road sector is the most polluting subsector within the transport sector. For the GTS, we focus a lot on vehicles and new energy vehicles, such as electric vehicles (EVs)."

While pointing out that there were concerns at the moment for EVs in South Africa owing to affordability, the likelihood of prices declining as technology developed, as well as the increasing prominence of EVs globally, had encouraged the DoT to consider the impact of EVs in the GTS.

“There are national and international policy directives that have pushed us to implement this strategy. The national directives are based on the Constitution of South Africa, the White Paper on National Transport Policy 2021 and other elements. There also is a response strategy from the Department Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, as it sets the basis that we must all respond to climate change.

"One of the most important policy directives we have is the new and revised White Paper on National Transport Policy 2021, which is larger in scope than the 1996 version. It has a section specifically on the environment, which was not there before, and it emphasises the importance of sustainability," Tenza commented.

The White Paper provides policy strategies for government to provide safe, reliable, effective, efficient, environmentally benign and fully integrated transport operations.

He noted the emissions profile of the transport sector, which is the fastest-growing source of GHG emissions in South Africa.

The South African National Greenhouse Gas Inventory report in 2018 noted this contribution at about 10.8%, but it had now grown to about 13.3%, he added.

Direct emissions from the roads subsector accounted for about 91.2%, mainly from the combustion of petrol and diesel (now 95.7%).

GTS GOALS
The DoT is looking to reduce GHG emissions and other environmental impacts from the transport sector by 5% by 2050.

He also highlighted the difficulties in reducing emissions from the transport sector, particularly as it impacted many other sectors in the country.

Tenza noted that the principles of sustainable development were also articulated in the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, noting the strategic pillars and implementation themes that the GTS would focus on.

The implementation themes include climate change response norms and standards, promoting green roads (such as shifting car users from individual private passenger cars to forms of public transport), and promoting green rail.

The next theme is green transport technologies, which focuses on reducing the carbon footprint and over-reliance on petroleum-based fuels by decarbonising the transport sector. It will also promote the use of alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, biogas and biofuels, and promote the uptake of EVs, hybrid-electric vehicles and fuel-cell-powered vehicles.

The last implementation theme focuses on green fuel economy standards, which includes developing green procurement guidelines, as well as providing norms, standards and regulations that promote the green fuel economy in vehicles and improve emission standards of fuel in South Africa.

QUICK WINS
Tenza also mentioned strategic short-term targets in terms of implementing the GTS.

This includes achieving modal shifts in the transport sector that reduce GHG and other harmful emissions, reducing transport congestion and improving temporal, spatial and economic efficiency in the transport sector.

Another target is to convert 5% of the public and national sector fleet in the first seven years of the implementation of this strategy, and a yearly increase of 2% thereafter, to cleaner alternative fuel and efficient technology vehicles.

The last target is to reduce fossil-fuel-related emissions in the transport sector by promoting norms and standards for fuel economy, and implementing regulations that promote improved efficiency in fossil-fuel-powered vehicles and improved environmental performance of fossil fuels.

“We have done some work there already with international organisations on promoting norms and standards”.

The DoT had developed the EV Regulations Framework, which was “a single point reference relative to the worldwide landscape for environmentally related requirements”, he stated.

The framework “captures the existence and extent of regulations relating to critical EV attributes, including any standards that are available for voluntary and mandatory compliance".

Additionally, it outlines ongoing efforts to develop appropriate standards, regulations and other requirements.

He pointed out that EV adoption was an issue that affected many different sectors and that success required collaborative efforts from different stakeholders across all sectors.

He also highlighted the Green Procurement Guidelines project, which provided a practical overview for public-sector staff involved with vehicle and fleet procurement.

This will equip people with the necessary knowledge of options available to procure “greener” vehicles.

It will also suggest environmental criteria to be included in green vehicle procurement tenders and contracts.

“This is a very practical step forward for attracting a greener way of transportation”.

Tenza highlighted the main implementation success factors as being coherent collaboration between stakeholders, policy alignment, economic incentives to incentivise the uptake of EVs, supporting local beneficiation and infrastructure support.

“Much of the implementation of GTS so far has focused on mitigation rather than adaptation, consistent with requirements for a Just Transition. For long-term sustainability, however, a meaningful economic recovery and growth plan that can lead to reducing unemployment, poverty and income inequality is needed.

"Transport is a significant catalyst. However, it also needs to be greener, for the survival of the physical environment and mankind,” he concluded.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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