In our "Corporate Sustainability Stories" series we share sustainable mobility initiatives being taken by influential corporate players in their effort to contribute to a healthier, greener planet.
Following our previous interview with Angela Hutelberg from IKEA, we're excited to introduce you to Jonas Strömberg Sustainability Director at Scania Group as he shares his insights into green transport and how making small changes can have a major impact when it comes to sustainability.
I'm the sustainability director for the bus division at Scania Group. The bus division is the closest to public transport in terms of shared issues, so I work on sustainable public transport solutions for big cities across the world. This means that we're primarily in contact with both city officials and big decision-makers to implement sustainability strategies internally and across networks.
It's the demands from cities that actually make it happen. Paris, for example, has very high demands for CO2 reduction, and so this will certainly have an influence on decision-makers there. It really isn’t so much national government, but city governments that are now moving ahead. They are running ahead of national legislation, even international legislation. They are demanding cleaner and greener solutions to a much higher extent than maybe the country would. You can truly say that cities are leading this development.
3/ Are operators and other players pushing for MaaS as well?
Well, it's one of the buzzwords that came along and has actually stuck. I believe that’s important. You want to travel, and all forms of transport and mobility need to cooperate to make that happen. We need to connect all these different services together. Historically, that hasn’t been the case. It's been the bus side working for themselves. Or the car side. Or the rail side. Or the bike guys. We have lacked this cooperation on this kind of common development towards MaaS. But things have changed a lot in the last 10 years. Now, we are all cooperating and collaborating in a very different way which is essential for cleaner and more efficient mobility.
4/ Has this momentum been affected by the lockdown earlier this year? Have you seen any major changes in the world specifically regarding mobility solutions?
Particularly within Europe, companies especially in transport are trying to restart “green”. Obviously, some of the projects we are pushing have been moving much more slowly which hasn’t been easy. But from the positive side, international finance has been finding it much more risky to invest in oil and coal. In fact, the premium for investing in oil and coal has actually gone up. It was already a topic of discussion before, but it has actually been even more accentuated after the lockdown. I believe that one positive thing that might come of this - this really troubled time that we have had - is this reminder that we must make a new start with the sustainability agenda input.
5/ How does technology play a role in greater sustainability, especially in transport and mobility?
I strongly believe that a lack of technology is really not the problem. We already have all the technology we need to make sustainability happen. We can out-compete fossil fuels basically on any market with a number of different solutions that exist already, but we also need the right policies to help accelerate everything.
6/ What has Scania done to encourage sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint on a larger scale?
We have actually reduced CO2 emissions by over 80% in our own transport company over the last 10 years just by doing a lot of small things, many of which are not necessarily super sexy or high tech. Since all Scania vehicles are connected vehicles, we now have the biggest connected fleet in the world. This means that we can follow each driver individually, coach them, help them, and support them in fostering “greener” driving habits. There are two angles to this: we can actually coach the driver both personally with the coach, but also online as we move forward, and the change we can make is quite dramatic. With this kind of dual-approach, you can plan and manage your transport in a “smarter” way.
We also have the internal bus system, we have the e-bike system, and yes, we also have some company cars still. All of which run on non-fossil or renewable energy. We are trying to minimize the use of cars internally as much as we can though. In fact, when we introduced the bus lines a couple of years ago, the interest in actually having a company car went down quite dramatically. I think that was really useful in increasing awareness.
7/ What are your thoughts on “green financing” and the importance of implementing quality solutions?
Financing is so important, but “how you finance” is just as important as “how much”. If you look at the world’s big financing institutions, they often just give money away to those companies that offer the cheapest solution. They tend to say “here you go, good luck!” and send them on their way without actually looking at the entire system. Then these big financing institutions come back and say, "take some more money and do another project."
I've traveled around the world for my job, and I've seen money from big financing institutions go into many transport systems that have worked for seven months and then collapsed into graveyards of vehicles. Currently, there is no follow-up on these projects at all. These big international financial institutions need to be financing the whole system - not only certain parts of it because they are cheap - and they need to do it over at least 10 years’ time for things to work.
Therefore I would say that “green financing” is really, really important, but there needs to be a change in how and where the money is invested so that you're actually reducing emissions and creating good public transportation and quality mobility solutions.
28 April 2020
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