Joint project for efficient transport systems
An Asean-German project has been kicked off to develop transport action plans for Thailand and Indonesia that will concurrently reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
"Every city is struggling and governments need to learn from each other within the Asean region," said Stefan Bakker, team leader of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
"There are problems in transport. In Jakarta, traffic is near gridlock. It's not that bad in Bangkok but people have to [travel for] two hours to their [destinations]. We need integrated solutions to solve those problems. Cities are growing so fast. Mega-cities are growing fast. Small cities are growing fast too. So if you don't take action now, it will be a lot worse in the next 10-20 years."
The "Energy Efficiency and Climate Change Mitigation in the Land Transport Sector in the Asean Region" project was sponsored by Thailand's Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) and GIZ with funding by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. Running until 2015, the project aims to support Thailand and other Asean countries in developing action plans and strategies in the transport sector and also improving the capacity to monitor such policies.
The focus will be mainly Thailand and Indonesia, with GIZ ready to provide resources and expert input.
With strong growth in the number of vehicles, Thailand and its cities already face serious problems, such as congestion, high fossil-fuel consumption, pollution and traffic accidents. Tran-sport is also a significant contributor to global carbon-dioxide emissions. To combat these trends, sustainable transport policies - including the promotion of public transport, emission standards for passenger and freight vehicles and non-motorised transport - urgently need to be implemented.
According to the Land Transport Department, 28 million vehicles are registered in the country and 7 million of them are in Bangkok. Last year, auto-makers sold 1.3 million vehicles, with about 700,000 units to be delivered this year. According to the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, the average speed for Bangkok's rush-hour inbound traffic was crawling at 16.5 kilometres per hour, against 16.3km/h last year. The average outbound traffic during rush hours was 23.5km/h, against 23.9km/h.
Under the ONEP-GIZ project, a workshop was held on March 5, attracting more than 100 stakeholders from government agencies and various transport sub-sectors. A study by the Asian Development Bank's Greater mekong Subregion Environment Operations Centre showed that while Thailand relied heavily on road transport, at 80.4 per cent, the number of ageing trucks was huge and suggested heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Of the 800,000 trucks in service in 2010, slightly over 100,000 were one to five years old. And 96.6 per cent were driven by diesel.
On a business-as-usual basis, carbon-dioxide emissions from the transport sector will rise from 1.2 million tonnes in 2010 to more than 1.4 million tonnes in 2023.
Naeeda Crishna-Morgado of the centre proposed a modal shift to rail and water.
As green freight initiatives, Thailand should launch fuel standards for new vehicles, a scheme to reduce old vehicles and a programme to embrace new technologies to cut fuel consumption among in-use fleets, she said.
In the workshop, the stakeholders scrambled for solutions and prioritised what should be implemented first. Government agencies under the Energy and Transport ministries also presented their long-term plans to reduce fossil-fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions.
Bakker said ministries had their own plans and they were not yet integrated into a single plan for streamlined integration and budgeting. The ONEP-GIZ project's objective is not to streamline the plans, as that is the government's decision.
It is hoped that after the project is completed, there will be some action plans that other Asean countries can learn from.
"Vietnam can learn from that. Again, every country is different," he said. "Upon completion, we want to see more policies in place than currently, to help alleviate the problems."