In this episode of the International Resource Panel (IRP) Webcast Series: What does the Global Future hold, the IRP invited David Ward, President of the Towards Zero Foundation (TZF), United Kingdom, to discuss what he sees on the horizon in terms of the future of "Transport and Mobility". He will speak about the key risks and opportunities and how the risks can be managed and opportunities achieved. The webcast includes a talk and a Q&A session.

Recording of the webcast

Key points from the webcast
New vehicle production scenarios 2030

In the first 20 years of this century over 1.4 billion new automobiles have been produced. In 2017 the world’s highest ever level of production was recorded at over 97 million vehicles. The total global vehicle fleet – automobiles in use – is also the highest it’s ever been, estimated to have passed 1.3 billion in 2016. Since the 1970’s the global fleet has roughly doubled every twenty years. Despite the twin global shocks, the 2009 financial crisis and the current COVID 19 pandemic, we are still experiencing the highest level of motorisation the world has ever seen.

To help frame policy priorities for the next decade, Towards Zero Foundation has prepared a set of three global vehicle production scenarios to 2030 which take account of the COVID 19 related decline in production that has occurred in 2020. The outcomes of these three scenarios are striking. By 2030 the number of new vehicles taking to the world’s roads could be as much as 1.4 billion with ‘Business as Usual’, 971 million with ‘Zero Growth’, and 858 million with ‘20% Decline-reduced car dependency’.

Whichever scenario turns out to be closest to reality, one thing is already clear; over the next decade hundreds of millions of new vehicles will be joining the global fleet. To achieve zero road deaths and emissions we are going to have to simultaneously improve the quality of the global fleet and reduce car dependency.

Source: TZF 2020 Annual Report
How can we achieve net-zero emissions and deaths on the roads?

We need to launch what we are calling #MissionZero2050. We need a fundamental change of direction that aims to eliminate traffic deaths from both crashes or pollution and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

For sure we are facing the greatest disruption to our road transport system since the origins of mass motorization over one hundred years ago. The end of the ICE age dawns, and an annual road crash death toll of 1.3 million is now widely recognized as unacceptable and avoidable. Despite the daunting scale of change we face there are grounds for optimism. The technologies required are already available and the policy framework needed is quite well known.

It is the ‘Avoid/Shift/Improve’ paradigm. Based on three pillars; firstly, to avoid risky and polluting travel; secondly, to encourage a shift towards less dangerous and polluting travel modes; and thirdly, to mobilize technology that improves the safety and environmental performance of road transport.

We also need a more human centered approach which inverts the traditional car-centric hierarchy that has dominated the thinking of transport planners for too long. The combination of improved street design, lower speeds, and better modal choice are essential to reduce car dependency. Giving primacy to the most vulnerable road users is a new imperative that can power up the ‘Avoid/Shift/Improve’ paradigm.

In addition, we need to balance the mix of policy instruments so that the full benefits of technologies are realized. For example, if rebound effects of improved fuel efficiency are shown to be significant then other policy measures should be applied to curb consumption, such as ‘pay as you go’ road pricing.  This kind of demand management must be an integral part of the ‘Avoid/Shift/Improve’ paradigm. And as the market share of electric vehicles surges - as night follows day - fiscal authorities will be looking afresh at road pricing to compensate for the reduced revenue from fuel duties.  

The application of ‘systems thinking’ in sustainable transport is critical because it promotes holistic structural adaptation that is most likely to succeed in making our mobility safer and less polluting by design.

Source: Towards Zero Foundation
What is the vision David has for the motor vehicle sector?

It will be much safer and cleaner; mainly electric, equipped with advanced driver assistance systems make crashes much rarer, automatically follow the speed limit, and mostly still be under the control of a human driver. Pay as you go charging will be widespread and levels of usage will be significantly less as car dependency is reduced. We will enjoy the benefits of living in more human centred, liveable communities where walking and cycling is just as common as driving a car. Overall, the motor vehicle will have a prominent but less dominant role in a much safer and sustainable mobility system. That is the future that I hope #MissionZero2050 will bring.

Access David Ward’s full speech here


Speaker - David Ward

David Ward is President of the Towards Zero Foundation (TZF). A UK charity, promoting safe and sustainable transport. TZF hosts the Global New Car Assessment Programme, the Stop the Crash Partnership, and the Commonwealth Road Safety Initiative. TZF has consultative status with the United Nations and supports implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals & the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021-2030).

From 2001 to 2013 David was Director General of the FIA Foundation which is one of the world’s largest philanthropies promoting safe and sustainable transport with an endowment of $300 million. In 2011 he established Global NCAP promoting vehicle consumer testing programmes worldwide. From 2006 to 2015 he was Secretary of the Commission for Global Road Safety, playing a leading role in the launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. From 2010 to 2012 he was Chairman of the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility. In 2009 he led the creation of the Global Fuel Economy Initiative in partnership with UNEP and the IEA. From 1996 to 2006 he was a Board Member of the European New Car Assessment Programme.

From 1988 to 1994 he was chief policy adviser to the late Rt. Hon. John Smith MP and previously worked for the United Nations Children’s Fund, and as a journalist. David is 65 years old, graduated from London University in 1979 with a BA in philosophy and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Learn more about the IRP Webcast Series: What does the Global Future hold?