NCEW Recap: Driving Forward Emissions Reduction in the Transportation Sector

Achieving global decarbonization in the transportation sector is challenging. As policymakers charge forward with the implementation of policies that pick winners and losers when it comes to reducing emissions in the transportation industry, transportation leaders are feeling the gear pressure.  

During the 2023 National Clean Energy Week Policymakers Symposium, Bob Stout, a Senior Fellow at the Duke Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, moderated a panel discussion on the regulatory barriers facing the transportation industry. Panelists included Theresa Romanosky, Assistant General Counsel for American Association of Railroads, Dr. Gavin Towler, Corporate Vice President and Chief Scientist of Sustainable Technologies at Honeywell, Tahmid Mizan, Global Regulatory Manager at ExxonMobil and Jeff Clarke, Vice President of Regulatory and Government Affairs at NGVAmerica

“When we think of decarbonizing the transportation sector a lot of people are solely focused on electrification. That is a mistake,” Romanosky said.  

Innovation in the transportation industry must be encouraged. As transportation alternatives to traditional gasoline vehicles continue to emerge on the marketplace, policymakers must look at the current barriers facing mass implementation and for other solutions besides electric vehicles. 

Panelists agreed that current mandates and policies do not line up with where technology has placed us today. “We need policymakers to think more broadly, think about flexibility, and remember that for many industries, we are just starting down the decarbonization path,” said Romanosky.  

Moving forward, we need policies that focus on the life cycle of these alternatives rather than just the tailpipe. A harmonized approach will help guide us in that direction. 

Regarding what the transportation sector is doing to reduce emissions, Stout remarked, “The transportation sector is very much in action when it comes to finding solutions to decrease emissions.” While the industry is looking to become more fuel-efficient and transition to clean energy, panelists were quick to acknowledge their need for collaboration from policymakers.

“If we are going to execute on these projects, we cannot give in to NIMBYism. There has to be some interest from policymakers in seeing these projects move forward,” Dr. Towler added. To help reduce emissions in the transportation sector we need policymakers to keep in mind that not all mandates are practical for solving on-ground realities.”  

“Policy is important to advancing the clean energy transition,” said Mizan. Educating the general public and those within the industry on the practical solutions already available to reducing emissions in the transportation industry will be a positive step forward in the clean-energy transition.  

Watch the full discussion here. To see other panels from National Clean Energy Week, like and subscribe on YouTube.     

CRES Forum is the lead convener and a proud sponsor of National Clean Energy Week. 

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