I attended the Smarter Moving Conference held at the NEC in Birmingham last week to present our research on online shopping and its environmental impact (See last weeks blog for full details). Two other very interesting papers were presented in the session, the findings of which are worth a brief mention.
The first presentation was made by John Conquest and colleague from Mouchel Parkman. Their paper titled ‘Sustainability and Highways Technology Schemes’ addressed the dust-to-dust environmental impact of variable speed signage on strategic routes, using the M25 as a case study. Their research found that variable signage could achieve a net saving of approximately 13,000 tonnes of CO2 over a 15 year period. They said additional work was needed to look at the impact of shorter technology lifecycles on initial estimates (i.e. replacement of electronics over five years for instance) and that other factors, which were initially difficult to quantify would get further attention.
This was then followed by Joel Gorsch from Business Region Goteborg on behalf of Automotive Sweden who spoke about the development, application and use of green vehicle technology in Sweden. We were told that 1.7 billion korona had been put into the first stage of a joint initiative between government, manufacturers and local authorities looking at vehicle engines, fuels and clean technology. The approach appears to have had reasonable success especially in the biomethane field as 11,500 vehicles in Sweden are now operated using this fuel supported by 68 filling stations. The programme Joel spoke of was more focused on developing future vehicle technology, but a number of government incentives dealing with consumer behaviour were highlighted such as free parking in city centres and tax discounts for environmental cars, which is helping to encourage new technology use. Carrots rather than sticks appears to be the approach Sweden is focusing on. Joel also highlighted that the initiative is very much focused on retaining jobs within the Swedish car industry and it is encouraging that next generation vehicles are a key part of the countries future business planning.
This ‘environmental issues’ section at the Smarter Moving Conference, was a very useful and interesting session. It was just a bit of a shame that ‘environmental issues’, which are now so key to policy in the wake of the Stern Report, was left to the last session on the last day. Maybe next year we will see environmental issues and technology headlining rather than trailing the Internationl Conference.