February Soirée – Demand Management Useful to Meet Climate Goals, But Practicality and Fairness Questions Remain

The February Soirée event, which took place at the Press Club Brussels Europe on the evening of the 13th of February, brought together a panel of industry experts to delve into the pressing topic of “Demand Management” within the transport sector.

The esteemed panel, comprising Christina Russe, Patrick Edmond, Robin Loos, and Sergio Alegre Calero, engaged in a robust discussion centred on the potential use of taxation as a strategic tool to reduce travel and transport consumption, particularly in the air transport sector. Some of the panellists expressed apprehensions about the feasibility and efficacy of employing taxation as a means to curtail travel consumption, citing concerns about its practicality and effectiveness.

In addition, the panellists explored the potential use of taxation and alternative measures to foster cleaner mobility and steer consumption toward less-carbon-intensive transportation options. Notably, promoting high-speed rail as a viable alternative to aviation and multi-modal passenger transport was a key point of discussion, and the forthcoming revision of the EU Air Service Regulation may include measures in this direction. However, the panellists raised reservations about the competitive dynamics in the rail market and the various factors influencing consumer choices, such as pricing, ease of searching and booking rail travel and service quality.

A pivotal highlight of the event was the examination of Paris’ decision to significantly increase parking fees on SUVs as a means to reduce their appeal. While acknowledging the potential environmental benefits of reduced SUV usage, some of the panellists voiced serious concerns about the methods employed in Paris. One panellist emphasised the concept of supply-induced demand and underscored the impact of inadequate CO2 regulations for cars and vehicles on the surge in SUV sales across Europe. Another drew attention to the applicability of supply-induced demand in the low-cost air carrier market, where new routes from airlines generate demand simply by offering routes.

The event provided a balanced and insightful perspective on the complexities of demand management within the transport sector, offering a nuanced analysis of the implications of taxation as a tool for moderating travel consumption. Moreover, the discussions shed light on the multifaceted considerations involved in promoting cleaner mobility and effecting sustainable shifts in transport consumption patterns.

In summary, the February Soirée event at the Press Club Brussels Europe offered a comprehensive exploration of demand management in the transport sector, providing valuable insights and perspectives from industry experts on the strategic use of taxation and alternative measures to shape consumption patterns and foster sustainable mobility.

The Green Mobility Magazine would like to thank all the speakers for their insights and the participants for their attendance. The next Soirée will occur on the 19th of March and explore the “Just Transition”. Panellists at the next soiree include Carlos Zorrinho – Member of the European Parliament; Julia Poliscanova – Senior Director of Vehicles & E-mobility Supply Chains, Transport & Environment; Livia Spera – General Secretary of the European Transport Workers’ Federation; and Raluca Marian – Director, EU Advocacy & General Delegate, International Road Transport Union (IRU).