Seven sustainable mobility solutions that work, in less than 10 years

To meet the COP21 pledge to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, we must act now. In transportation, the world's third-biggest emitter, companies such as Total have decided to prepare the future and offer efficient solutions that are actionable immediately. That's the whole point of Open Lab Mobility, of which Total is a founding member. The goal is to think about the various solutions we can implement in our common interests and promote them at events such as Movin'On, organized by Michelin in late May, so that we can take action and rally people to the cause.

The passenger and freight transportation sector is the world's third-biggest carbon emitter, after energy production and industry. It currently accounts for 24 percent of emissions (9.4 GtCO2e1 in 2014), mainly as a result of energy combustion. That is projected to rise to 26 percent (11.4 GtCO2e) in 2030 under the business-as-usual scenario; in other words, if no concrete measures are taken. But countries did pledge to take action at COP21 in Paris. At this point, achieving the beyond 2 degrees Celsius scenario would require limiting carbon emissions from the transportation to 7.9 GtCO2e in 2030. We need to act now.

Action is the trademark of Open Lab Mobility. Instigated by Michelin, it is an ecosystem of innovations, brainstorming and solutions. It's a "think and do tank" — the word "do" being key — that will hold its major event, Movin'On, from May 30 to June 1 in Montreal, Canada.

Think, act, influence. Géraldine Pinol of Total and Alexis Offergeld of Michelin present Open Lab Mobility's goals.

Géraldine Pinol, sustainable marketing & mobility manager at Total, reviews the challenges and goals of the event, sometimes informally referred to as the "Davos of Mobility," in her answers to five questions.

Along with Michelin, Total is a founding member of Open Lab Mobility. What is OLM?

Open Lab Mobility is a "think and do tank" that brings together a number of partners to examine and act on sustainable mobility issues and become a genuine driving force in a much bigger ecosystem. Because the goal is to act and spur others to act. It has 18 founding companies: Accenture, BNP Paribas, Capgemini, CGI, Dassault Systèmes, DHL, Engie, EY, Faurecia, Geodis, Michelin, Mobivia, Orange, Saint-Gobain, Solvay, Thales, MACIF and Total. Their diversity shows how serious Open Lab Mobility is about addressing all sustainable mobility issues internationally. Plans to replicate the initiative are in the works in the United States and Asia.

The carbon emission challenges we face require a determination, engagement and action that no company acting alone can provide. The companies in Open Lab Mobility have combined revenues of more than 500 billion euros, a global presence and a common desire to tackle sustainable mobility, make their voices count and take very concrete, short- and medium-term action.

Speaking of action, what is Total focusing on in sustainable mobility?

First, sustainable mobility articulates perfectly with Total's ambition to be the responsible energy major by aligning itself with the International Energy Agency's 2 degrees Celsius scenario. We realize that a sizeable percentage of carbon emissions, or of particulates and other transportation sector pollutants2, are related to energy use. Total therefore constantly seeks solutions to address this issue while creating value for society as a whole through providing as many people as possible with safe, clean, affordable and accessible energy. We can tap the expertise of people who've been working in these areas for years.

Total works routinely on projects such as improving energy efficiency and the energy mix, developing low-carbon businesses, helping make materials and thus vehicles lighter, making them more fuel efficient, formulating and marketing new fuels and lubricants that can cut fuel use, promoting vehicle electrification and educating the public about road safety. All Total business segments are involved in sustainable mobility.

The Open Lab Mobility community published a report entitled 'Speeding up to less than 2° C: Actionable clean mobility solutions.' What are the takeaways?

The objective of the study was to promote solutions that could reduce greenhouse gases and are technologically mature and within reach in the next decade. Once again, the emphasis is on "doing," so we can deploy solutions rapidly and have a positive impact in the short or medium term.

The simple conclusion: it's doable! There are already technological, behavioral and regulatory solutions that can be deployed. We've identified seven of them. For example, cities and businesses can agree to slightly shift their business hours to prevent commuter congestion. Transportation operators can, with the help of energy companies like us, step up the use of new energies such as natural gas vehicle fuel, for which Total hopes to become a leader in Europe.

The study singles out three, behavior-based, short-term solutions:

  • Incentives in favor of behavioral and modal shifts in passenger transportation.
  • Eco-driving technologies and training programs.
  • Car-pooling applications for short distances and the sharing economy in freight transport.

And four energy-related, medium-term solutions:

  • Sustainable biofuels.
  • Battery electric vehicles.
  • Natural gas vehicles.
  • Hydrogen-based fuel cell electric vehicles.

The good news is that if such solutions were deployed on a large scale, they would add up to as much as 37 percent of the mitigation effort expected in the transportation sector to achieve 2 degrees Celsius, specifically a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Total is active in each of those solutions. Examples include:

Lastly, many of the solutions that can be implemented in the very short term involve changing individual or collective behavior. So let's get going!

What will happen at Movin'On in late May in Montreal?

The theme for 2018 is "Bringing global, smart, sustainable and multimodal mobility to life." Everyone involved in sustainable mobility will be there, to brainstorm, learn and take coordinated action. Total has partnered the event since the fourth one. The number is up to 14 already, when you count the previous version, which was called the Michelin Challenge Bibendum.

We're very involved in Movin'On. Patrick Pouyanné, Total's CEO, will speak as part of a panel on May 30 on the topic of "The great pathways to the future of mobility." He will share Total's sustainable mobility vision and goals.

Plus, we will lead two working sessions:

  • May 30, afternoon: "New technologies and energy combinations for sustainable road freight transport."
  • May 31, afternoon: "Successful transition towards electric mobility."

They, too, will present challenges and possible actions and spur participants to think about and work on the solutions we can implement to bring about change faster.

Should we be optimistic?

I'd say that it's up to us to create reasons for optimism. What we need is a comprehensive, realistic vision. The issues facing Western Europe are not the same as North America's, still less Asia's or Africa's. In one case the vehicle fleet will grow dramatically, while the other needs access to clean, reliable energy before anything else.

No one has all the keys to meeting the 2 degrees Celsius challenge. It will take the intervention of regulators and their incentive — or coercive — power, the capability of industrial operators, which have or will have the technology, and the ability of citizens/users to change their behavior without sacrificing convenience or service.

The "Speeding up to less than 2°C" study showed the same thing. To quote Alexis Gazzo, partner at EY Climate Change & Sustainability Services and facilitator of Open Lab Mobility's Beyond 2°C community: "This study shows that governments and the private sector can achieve significant results by working together to implement the right enabling environment, provide positive incentives to foster change, and promote the large-scale development of innovative solutions."

As you can see, everyone is interdependent, so consensus building and co-creation are the key. That's what Open Lab Mobility and Movin'On are all about.

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1 Short for billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Carbon dioxide equivalents assign each gas a global warming potential (GWP) for a specified period, compared to carbon dioxide, which is used as a yardstick (and whose GWP is therefore set at 1). GWP designates the estimated greenhouse effect of a greenhouse gas. (Source:

2 In France, road transportation is responsible for 17% of particulate emissions. Source (French only): Service de la donnée et des études statistiques (SDES) [National Data and Statistical Survey Department].

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