Kurt Van Dender, Chief Economist, International Transport Forum (ITF) on Driving the Nation

Kurt VAN DENDER, Chief Economist, International Transport Forum (ITF). The International Transport Forum at the OECD is an intergovernmental organisation with 52 member countries. The International Transport Forum evolved from the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) in 2006.

The Members of the Forum are: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYROM, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The ITF acts as a strategic think tank for transport policy and organizes an annual summit of ministers. The work of the International Transport Forum is underpinned by economic research, statistics collection and policy analysis that meet the needs of nine billion people by 2050. Van Dender talked to Lou Ann Hammond, www.drivingthenation.com, about the ITF findings.

Some of the findings from the ITF are that mobility will triple globally by 2050. Van Dender gave the numbers in a paper he submitted in a report, ” The worlds population reached 6 billion in 2000 and will be around 9 billion in 2050. Coupled with rising incomes this will lead global mobility to expand strongly through 2050. If infrastructure and energy prices allow, there will be around 3 to 4 times as much global passenger mobility (passenger-kilometres travelled) as in 2000 and 2.5 to 3.5 as much freight activity, measured in ton-kilometres.”

“Growth will be much stronger outside the OECD region than within it. Accounting for population growth, passenger mobility per- capita outside the OECD grows three fold in our baseline scenario or four-fold in the high scenario.”

“it is unclear to what levels car ownership per capita will rise in emerging economies. Very high levels, characteristic of the USA, are unlikely; somewhere between European and Japanese levels is conceivable. The range between these reference points is large but in either case the share of car-trips in total passenger mobility seems set to increase strongly, e.g. from less than 10% at present in China to more than 50% in 2050.”

“Travel by passenger vehicles has not grown much recently in a number of the highest income economies, or has even declined. The peak car travel hypothesis holds that this is because of a saturation effect, where more income no longer translates into more car travel when incomes are very high.”

“CO2 emissions will rise less strongly than mobility because of improving fuel economy. By 2050 global emissions from vehicle use might be 2.5 to 3 times as large as they were in 2000.”

Expected improvements in fuel economy will lead to reduced consumption of gasoline in, for example, the USA and OECD Europe (Diesel consumption would first increase and then decline in OECD Europe).

If fuel tax levels do not change, this means a strong reduction in revenues from the taxation of transport fuels. This prompts a need for revising transport tax structures, perhaps in the direction of distance- based charges.

To illustrate the point, a fuel economy improvement that reduces the CO2 emissions of an average diesel car in France from 160g/km to 130g/km generates enough savings on fuel expenditures for most drivers to make the investment in more efficient technology worthwhile. But the loss of tax revenue would result in a bad deal for society if the shortfall were to be made up by additional labour taxes, despite the benefit’s of lower CO2 emissions.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.