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  • ITS news
  • Transport Sustainability: Decarbonising and Electrifying

26 May 2022

Transport Sustainability: Decarbonising and Electrifying

Stacey Ryan


Transportation is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the highest growth rate. In 2019 approximately 15% of total net anthropogenic GHG emissions came from transport.

Last month in Melbourne, the ITS Australia community came together at the association's first conference of the year, Roads, Tolling and Technology 2022. This event has long been the industry insider conference for tolling technology, a mature industry with an increasingly expanding range of interests and issues.

First amongst these priorities for 2022 are data, sustainable and equitable transport, and the changing economics of road access. The two-day program included presentations and panel discussions working to address these complex challenges and make the most of the potential opportunities technology offers to solve them. The event also saw compelling discussions about the role technology can play in delivering and supporting sustainable transport – electric, active and shared.

We saw many big ideas and bold claims during one of the conference's major highlights, a panel discussion facilitated by Silje Troseth, Vice President APAC & General Manager of Q-Free Australia. In this session titled The Road to Decarbonisation in Australia, hosted by Q-Free, an insightful panel of experts considered the pathway to an entirely electric future. Panellist Peter Griffin, Director Innovation and Strategic Engagement at the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), commented, "It is going to happen. It's inevitable. We're on the road now, but it's going to take some time."

Transurban is working on a sustainable driving program and is continuing to plan, design and operate road assets in ways that reduce emissions. Matt Brennan, Head of Sustainability at Transurban, explored some of the steps that the organisation is taking to reduce emissions today, including reducing the gradients in and out of tunnels or on roads, focussing on the smoothness of pavements, and doing everything possible to avoid congestion.

Dr Ingrid Burford, Senior Associate Transport and Cities at the Grattan Institute, highlighted that light vehicles represent about 60% of carbon emissions in the transport sector. That is where her mitigation policy strategies are focused. She highlighted a carbon ceiling, sometimes called an emission standard, as perhaps the best tool for delivering on the Net Zero 2050 target, commenting, "It's a policy measure that is very familiar to manufacturers; it's used across about 90% of the International light vehicle markets in the world."

You can listen to the panel discussion below:


Matthew Brennan Head of Sustainability / Transurban
Peter Griffin Director Innovation and Strategic Engagement / Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries
Ross De Rango Head of Energy and Infrastructure / Electric Vehicle Council
Ingrid Burfurd Senior Associate, Transport and Cities / Grattan Institute
Silje Troseth Vice President APAC & General Manager Australia / Q-Free Australia

Case Studies

Emissions modelling

NEVFMA stands for the 'Network Emissions and Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment' and the project is led by Aimsun, working with EarthSense, Siemens Mobility and Oxfordshire County Council for Highways England.

The model predicts not only traffic but also emissions, with a real-time, traffic-linked pollution dispersion model. The simulation of predicted NO2 pollution levels from EarthSense's MappAir dispersion model integrated with Aimsun Live allows real time proactive and reactive traffic management to tackle emissions and congestion.

Camera-based emissions tracking

It's well evidenced that traffic pollution causes health issues and damages the environment this can have particularly outsized effect in urban environments – both due to high traffic and more congestion intersections and networks increasing emissions and particulates. Specific areas where targeted action is taken to improve air quality are called Clean Air Zones.

Kapsch TrafficCom are utilising camera-based technologies to both mitigate these impacts and provide network managers tools to manage emissions through a range of interventions. These include:

  • Advanced sensors, permanent and mobile video cameras
  • Optimal automatic number plate recognition capabilities
  • Ability to classify the vehicles to determine their emissions levels
  • Charging and enforcing capabilities

Emissions targets

Informed by and delivering on relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Transurban have committed to a decarbonisation program across their managed motorways in Australia and internationally. Targeting a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 through two initiatives – scope 1 and scope 2. Scope 1 being contractor fuel efficiency and switching to ZEV and scope 2 comprising renewable energy initiatives and optimising ventilation as well as lighting upgrades and the generation of renewable energy. Their Scope 3 reduction targets include reducing emissions intensity for major projects by 2030 through low carbon materials and renewable energy.

ITS Australia is committed to exploring ways technology can reduce the impacts of GHG emissions and address other environmental challenges we are facing – recognising that transport is a key contributor yet can play a powerful role in makes changes for the better -- working with our members to advocate for a transport future that is safe and sustainable.

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