18 Mar 2021

ERTRAC published a Timeline to Carbon Neutrality in Road Transport

The road to carbon neutrality is long and intertwined between vehicles, energy and infrastructure technologies. A brief overview of the potential milestones and changes along this way is given in this paper, decade by decade, from now until 2050. It is hoped that, by envisaging this route, this document is an aid to discussion, understanding and decision making.

Naturally, whilst the goal is given (net Zero Carbon Mobility by 2050, Well-to Wheel), full clarity of the route ahead is not yet available. What is clear, however, is that this route is complex, requires the contributions from many stakeholders and much investment. The negative impacts of making possibly wrong decisions, too early, are significant.

Therefore, it is worthwhile now, to suggest a possible timeline; as a basis to both test the scenarios it foresees but also for direct comparison with other viewpoints. Hence, through discussion and improved precision, the impacts of the milestones along the road to defossilised mobility be better understood by all, decisions made upon firmer foundations. Additionally, such a timeline can give now, with technical neutrality and a long-term perspective, insight into the open questions, the needs for research and innovation that thus arise.

This document should not be read in isolation: there is much work on-going to quantify the consequences of possible routes to and the results of different scenarios. Reference is given to several such studies at the end of this paper. Furthermore, this document should not be considered definitive nor set-in-stone: just as any journey might experience delays, diversions but also improved timetables, so this Timeline is open for adjustments to the routeplan, the milestones and their phasing, as more is learned during the journey.

Without a map, without a route, without signposts along the way, we are surely lost before we set-off for our destination. This Timeline is suggested as an aid to ensure the start is right, feedback is always welcome.