Pierre Guislain, World Bank: Transport is “major dimension” of a green economy

Ilario D'Amato
14 April 2016

Pierre Guislain, Senior Director for the Transport and ICT Global Practice, World Bank

LONDON: Today EU ministers are meeting in the Netherlands to discuss the future of European transport. The sector accounts for about a quarter of the continent’s CO2 emissions and 23% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions – and so presents a huge opportunity for low carbon growth, according to Pierre Guislain, World Bank, speaking on Climate TV.

Europe has a target of reducing emissions by 60% by 2050 – from 800 megatons (Mt) of CO2 in 1990 to 320 Mt, particularly from road transport. But to achieve such a bold target, we need structural change that develops and implements coordinated low carbon transport policies across the globe.

“Until now we haven't really see the major presence of transport issues on the climate change agenda,” Pierre GuislainSenior Director for the Transport and ICT Global PracticeWorld Bank, said in a Climate TV interview during COP21. “If no aggressive measures are taken”, the Director says, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sector would account for a third of the global total by 2050.

Pierre Guislain explains in his interview that the transport sector is fundamental in the fight against climate change because “most of the big transport investments are structural investments, which affect a lot of aspects of society and life”.

Moving from private vehicles to public transport in the city environment in particular would contribute significantly to GHG emission reductions, “but it will also contribute to a cleaner and less polluted environment, less road casualties and crashes and it will increase also physical fitness by increasing personal mobility and non-motorized mobility. By taking a little bit more [of a] holistic view, transport can be a major dimension of a lower carbon and green economy.”


The informal meeting of the EU ministers of transport and environment which began today in Amsterdam in the Netherlands aims to further decarbonize mobility, in a bid to accelerate low carbon growth. After all, research by the European Climate Foundation has found reducing emissions in the car sector alone would generate about 700,000 additional jobs by 2025 in Europe.

However, to fully develop such a complex net of low carbon transport and fuels in cities, inter-urban transport, freight and logistics would require “inter-modal solutions, it will require more integrated policies,” says Pierre Guislain. “We have a whole set of policies that need to be thought of differently, upfront, to promote a greener economy – one where transport can be a critical dimension of this lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

At the same time, all policies need to be consistent. In a Climate TV interview during Climate Week NYC 2015,Ángel Gurría,Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), pointed out that governments must stop subsidizing fossil fuels because it is the “greatest misallocation of resources” and a “brutal example of policy contradictions”

“We’ve discussed carbon pricing quite a bit here at COP21,” underlines Pierre Guislain in the interview. “It has been a big topic with major endorsements for strong carbon pricing approach.” In particular, for the transport sector it is immediately necessary to phase out fossil fuel subsidies “and to tax fuels adequately to represent the true externalities that transport represents,” he says, in order to incentivize the right type of transport – which is “shared, public and not the individual motorized transport of the Fifties and Sixties.”


After the historic Paris Agreement, which has set the foundations for a greener, safer and more prosperous future, much remains to be done in terms of implementation – and even more so for the transport community.

“We’re not particularly well organized,” says Pierre Guislain, so it is necessary to come up with “a framework to follow up on the multiple commitments that have been made [during COP21], whereas in the voluntary commitments over 20 different alliances in the national commitments of the INDCs related to transport.”

The World Bank “intends to play a critical role, both to support our client countries and implement their transport and all the commitments, but also in providing some support to a broader framework of follow-ups.”

“There’s a long road ahead,” concludes Pierre Guislain. “In particular to put transport at the forefront of efforts to create a greener economy, a decarbonized economy – and [that] works for lots of people globally as well as at country level.”

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon