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Decarbonising transport will require a new level of collaboration, according to speakers at today’s launch of DNV’s Energy Transition Outlook 2023 report.

Of the major polluters, aviation and deepsea shipping are seen as the most difficult to decarbonise, with road haulage comparatively straightforward via electricity, use of which in transport is set to grow from 1% today to 4% in 2030 and 23% by 2050, according to DNV president and CEO Remi Eriksen.

“Owing to its superior efficiency, electricity really punches above its weight,” he said, adding that fossil-fuelled vehicles were, at most, 40% efficient, but with green electricity that increased to 90%.

Deepsea shipping and aviation will be the tough nuts to crack, said Mr Eriksen, particularly as these sectors are expected to grow between now and 2050: aviation by 130% and shipping by 35%, in tonne miles.

To meet this major challenge, said secretary general at the OECD’s International Transport Forum Young Tae Kim, collaboration would be essential.

He highlighted three aspects that needed to be addressed: technical collaboration, to develop safe and affordable fuels; citizens must understand why changes were happening, to convince populations to change behaviour; and regulation, previously seen as diminutive, but will act “as a kind of guideline for collaboration between the private and public sectors”.

To achieve net-zero goals and maintain global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, DNV argues that the transition must have a sequence; a shift to electricity in the first instance, followed by the use of biofuels for harder-to-decarbonise sectors and lastly, the development of hydrogen and its derivatives to create net-zero fuels.

The US Department of Energy’s deputy assistant secretary for sustainable fuels, Michael Berube, told the meeting the US planned to use biofuels to cut emissions from aviation and deepsea shipping, and was looking at decarbonising all transport sectors.

He said: “We should reflect on how amazing it is that five years ago aviation and deepsea shipping weren’t even in the conversation.”

Mr Berube believes biofuels from waste materials will be “incredibly important” in the decarbonisation process, creating sustainable aviation fuel, where he sees the majority of these low-carbon liquid fuels being used.

He added that using waste materials could lead to the development of other low-carbon fuels that could also be used in the maritime sector.

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