“The wave of green transformation across the world and Europe and its ambitions are pushing for a rethink of modes of transport, travel habits and processes, and accelerating sustainable innovation. It is expected that these changes will also be seen in Lithuania in the coming years: by 2030, we should experience significant changes in the transport sector, both in the areas of electromobility and the use of alternative fuels and sustainable mobility,” said Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis on Thursday at the GreenTech Vilnius Forum 2022 where he gave a presentation on “How will the EU green policy transform the Lithuanian transport sector?”.
“There is one fundamental ambition in the concept of the European Green Deal, which is to reduce GHG emissions by 55 % by 2030 compared to 1990. This results in a huge complex of measures in the energy, transport, financial sector, etc. We are already clearly seeing the acceleration of electromobility, the use of other alternative fuels and the creation of an environment for sustainable mobility in cities and regions. The transformation covers all sectors, with major changes in land, air and water transport. By 2030, we should already see quite clear changes in the transport sector towards greening in the world and in Lithuania,” said the Minister.
What are the trends in Europe
In the context of the Green Deal, rail is seen as the backbone of sustainable mobility throughout Europe for both passenger and freight transport. Another future trend is hydrogen trains, which are already replacing more polluting diesel fuel locomotives in Germany, and in the near future we will see their development in a larger part of Western Europe.
In 2030, the EU will have 9 times more electric vehicles (over 30 million) and 18 times more charging stations (2.7 million) than last year. Freight transport is also undergoing a transformation: the market is waiting for electric trucks to travel short distances and gas and hydrogen trucks for longer distances. The use of micromobility vehicles is growing rapidly, including bicycles, scooters, various electric hoverboards, etc.
Despite the fact that aviation is responsible for only 2 % of all greenhouse gas emissions generated, the sector is also moving towards climate neutrality. Water transport is also about to change – the International Maritime Organisation has announced that emissions should be halved by 2050 compared to 2008, which requires a radical change in the technologies currently used. Good practices include hydrogen-powered waterborne vehicles.
What to expect in Lithuania
According to the Minister, the goal is to invest where the maximum effect can be achieved. That certainly refers to cities, where around 90 % of all pollution is concentrated, which perhaps requires the biggest actions.
Currently, only 9 % of the Lithuanian railway network is electrified. After completing the Vilnius-Klaipėda electrification project at the end of 2023, around 30 % of Lietuvos geležinkeliai will be electrified. This will reduce CO2 emissions by about 150 000 tonnes per year, which is equivalent to the amount of CO2 emitted by 83 000 cars per year.
The aviation sector is also becoming more environmentally friendly: the electric bus Dancer produced in Lithuania is being tested at Vilnius Airport and has replaced diesel buses. It is estimated that by 2030 around 20 % of the Lithuanian passenger car fleet will consist of electric vehicles, and 60 000 public and private charging points for electric vehicles will be installed.
By the second quarter of 2022, it is planned to finalise the national Cycling Route Development Plan. The Ministry of Transport and Communications sets ambitious targets: to increase the total number of cycle paths by at least 20 % by 2024, which includes restoring the current paths. By 2030, urban travel by public transport, walking or cycling should be at least 60 % (currently 45 %).
“There will be an unavoidable change in travel habits, and these changes are not rapid. We have become culturally highly dependent on cars, which often seem to be a more convenient mode of transport and much more accessible than in most EU countries. However, in order to change travel habits, it is important to provide residents with real opportunities to choose and offer other attractive alternatives to travel,” said the Minister at the forum.