Summary of the seminar: “Sustainable transition of the transport sector – policy instrument and coevolution of society & technology”

In this Theme 4 open seminar, Mattias Goldmann, founder of the 2030-secretariat, talked about incentives and drivers for electrification of transport. Viktor Werner, PhD student at Linköping University, presented insights based on his upcoming doctorate thesis. He focused on the need for system reconfiguration to succeed with a transition to electrified goods transportation.

Incentives and drivers for electrification of transport

Mattias Goldmann took us on a tour around the world to highlight successful initiatives in the ongoing electrification of transport, both by governments and companies. The tour included explanations to why so many Danes travel by bike instead of car – concluding that none of the main drivers relate to sustainability. Instead, prevalent reasons are that it offers a daily workout, it is more efficient than car, and that cost is lower.

One takeaway is the importance of framing sustainability measures in terms of motivating everyday action. This is true also in USA and in France, which were exemplified for their incentives to drive electric vehicles. In France, the creation of the bonus-malus system has enabled a financial incentive without burdening the average taxpayer. Other important drivers for change are role models, for example the Pope using an electric car. Mattias summarized his tour by listing common denominators for successful measures: smart economic incentives where the impact on the state budget is limited, outright bans of combustion engines for some applications and using fossil fuels more broadly, giving production stimuli, and to “walk the talk”.

The need for a system reconfiguration in the transition to electrified goods

Viktor Werner’s presentation, which is based on his doctorate thesis (dissertation on the 27th of October), focused on the need for system reconfiguration to succeed with a transition to electrified goods transportation. His presentation targeted both how larger firms (“incumbents”) affect the system, and how the change of system affects them. From an incumbent perspective, they can shape the reconfiguration process by: learning and adapting, joint demand articulation, market shaping, and agenda setting. For the other perspective, the impact of the system change, Viktor highlighted three aspects for the incumbent to consider: proactive selection of feedback mechanisms, pursuit of strategic partnerships, and acknowledgement of activity boundaries being anticipatory and keep open for emerging feedback. One main contribution from Viktor’s work is the need to view markets as social systems, which entails the need to support and engage with key customers.