Travel transportation is under intense scrutiny for its role in the climate emergency, with good reason. The pandemic has, however, proven that transportation is critical in tackling the global health crisis through vaccine distribution, as well as much needed tourism revenues and jobs in emerging markets. Accelerating sustainable transformation through decarbonisation and innovation is vital for transport players to ensure a resilient, long-term recovery, being part of the net zero solution.
The travel transportation market nosedived in 2020, as the pandemic forced countries to ban travel, and impose quarantine restrictions and other health protocols, creating a complex patchwork of disparate regulations. In a single year, sales fell by 58%, wiping off USD723 billion. A rebound is set for 2021, with full recovery in 2024 at the earliest.
There is a major problem with transportation, due to the over-dependency on air transport, which is highly cost intensive, with a large carbon footprint; however, only by adopting a multi-modal, sustainable transport system will a 1.5°C pathway be achieved.
The largest sources of transportation sales growth are the US and Asia Pacific, as rising disposable incomes translate into a desire to fly. With the US and China as the world’s largest emitters, accelerating decarbonisation of transportation will be key.
The current financial landscape for transport players is being held together artificially by state aid. Once all support is removed and loans repaid, there will be more corporate casualties, bankruptcies and M&As, with more mobile-first start-ups moving in.
There was a missed opportunity to tie state aid to climate commitments; nevertheless, the scrutiny of transport players will intensify, especially as the sector’s share of the carbon budget is set to sky-rocket. Calling “code red” on sustainability and the need for net zero emissions by 2050 is the only way to ensure the best future for people and the planet.
Progress continues to be made in the field of sustainable aviation fuels and innovation in electric, hybrid aircraft, with huge opportunities for multi-modal transport systems to revolutionise the way consumers travel.
Transport has proved its relevance during the pandemic, moving vaccines and medical supplies as part of the COVAX efforts to deliver equitable distribution to low-income countries. Greater efforts in decarbonisation and being part of net zero solutions will help to pave a resilient and purpose-driven future.
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