All over Europe, around this time, national coordinators and their contracting authorities, have been collecting all the information they could lay their hands and eyes on, to present the titillating program municipalities and cities came up with in the months leading up to the official date, which is, as every year, from September 16th to September 22rd.
National coordinators are helped by the European secretariat
Starting from the launch event in Brussels in March every year, national coordinators drive, bike and rail back to their respective countries to break down the information they received from the European Commission through their very active and helpful secretariat. The two-day March-meeting includes workshops, conferences and loads of coffee-break knowledge exchange and is highly appreciated by the national coordinators, of whom I have had the honor of being one for seven years. Personally, this is my first year since 2012, that I am merely a spectator of the the press conference. I will be, nevertheless, active during the week as a keynote speaker and will be presenting a very exciting concept that EVERARD Consulting & Communication developed for the municipality of Bissen and which we will be implementing to be inaugurated in July 2021.
If you want us to help you with your European Mobility Week project in 2021, do not hesitate to contact us. We provide consulting on possibilities, help you develop new ideas and conceptualize your next permanent measure.
The European Commission chooses the theme
As you might know, the European Commission decides on the theme that the European Mobility Week should have and usually it seeks out to find a link to the latest relevant policy it tries to convey. This year's theme is "Zero-emission mobility for all". The theme, as you may well have decoded, reflects the ambitious targets of a carbon-neutral continent by 2050, as laid out by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, when presenting the European Green Deal. The official website states that the theme "also aims to highlight the importance of accessibility to zero-emission transport and promote an inclusive framework involving everyone."
Which took me to the questioning:
What exactly is this zero-emission transport we are talking about?
The first reflex one might have is to answer this question by saying "Walking, cycling and maybe electric vehicles?" even though these last ones are zero-emission only when driving on the road. They are, as all cars, very energy-consuming and produce their fair share of CO2 in being built in the first place. Which brings us to the word "transport" which is different from "mobility". Mobility is mostly active. Transport is a more passive way of getting from point A to B. You could even be freight as far as it matters to the word "transport".
The transport sector is a model student
In terms of growth, the transport sector is a model student: it is the fastest growing contributor to carbon emissions which makes it one of the most polluting industries on the planet. So aiming for a zero-emission future by 2050 as the European Commission does, most certainly is a noble thought. But will Europe be able to take the necessary measures to reach this goal? 25% of all CO2-emissions come from transport. 71.7% of those come from road-transport, 13.9% from aviation, 13.4% from maritime transport leaving the rest 1% to be distributed to all other modes including rail transport.
Those are pretty impressive numbers and we all agree, that something has to be done. With 2050 only thirty years away, drastic measures will have to be taken on a European level, but also internationally. That is why the Commission came up with the European Green Deal - a vast policy program spanning health, environmental, energy, building and other subjects. Let us focus, for the sake of what we are here to talk about, on transport and mobility.
What is the European Green Deal about?
Through the Green New Deal the EU aims to implement smart mobility, to fix emission standards for combustion-engine vehicles, implement smart traffic management systems and applications, alter freight delivery methods with preferred pathways being by land or water, boost public transport to reduce congestion as well as pollution, install charging ports for electric vehicles and encourage the purchase of low-emission vehicles. To top it off, the "Single European Sky" plan sets out to reduce CO2-emissions from air traffic by 10%.
What about this smart mobility that the European Green Deal promotes?
Smart mobility, as it is defined in the expert group report from the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation - Smart, Green and Integrated Transport "Smart mobility and services" from 2017 includes car sharing schemes, Mobility as a service (MaaS), mobility on demand (MOD) as well as autonomous transport systems, smart mobility services in freight and logistics and even drones and low-altitude aerial mobility (sic).
Most, if not all of these policies are encouraging high-tech solutions that will consume enormous amounts of energy, rare earth elements and leave us with huge amounts of e-waste to cope with later on. Our cities may become smarter, mobility may too, but will it come to pass in the way it may be intended or will it just be the next step into the wrong direction?
Why do we care?
EVERARD Consulting & Communication focuses on creating resilience to help face the often unwelcome changes that will inevitably appear over the years to come. We help you create and implement projects that have little ecological impact and enable a switch to sustainable mobility. We are there to support you in communicating your vision for a better future.
I always loved the European Mobility Week. Sometimes themes were hard to communicate, but you could always find shortcuts or bypasses to make it fit and let European Mobility Week be what it was meant to be: A fantastic week to raise awareness for sustainable mobility and a great occasion to have a good time whilst walking, cycling or promoting public transport.
If you are looking for keynote speakers for your event on mobility, contact us.
Our Minister for Mobility is down to earth
To me it was not surprising that Minister François Bausch, in his intervention at the press conference on September 14th at the Ministry of Mobility and Public works, did not linger on the theme of this year's European Mobility Week. He did not even comment on the European Green Deal. He immediately clarified that for him the call to action was decarbonisation of transport. And he went on to a more granular level and explained that in his opinion, decarbonisation meant multi-modal thinking - the act of being mobile by combining different modes of transport because "If you change from a thermal engine congestion to an e-engine congestion, you still have congestion on the roads".
After this, M. Bausch went on to emphasize the obvious: Cycling and walking are zero-emission mobility modes that are and should be accessible to everyone and municipalities should be concentrating on these modes on their way forward.
Cycling and walking are the key mobility modes for municipalities
Having coordinated many European Mobility Weeks, I completely agree with Minister Bausch. Cycling and walking are the main features of many local policies, and they should be. Luxembourg is mostly rural, and these most basic and cleanest transport modes of all are often underestimated but attain an enormous impact if valorized and if (low cost) infrastructure is put in place.
This is what European Mobility Week is all about
I know that our creative and active municipalities are looking out for the good of their citizens and are doing their best to better their daily life and enhance the available public space to make the village or city more livable. That's exactly how it should be and that's what the European Mobility Week is all about. Let us all work together on getting these simplest zero-emission mobility modes strengthened. Drones and low-altitude aerial mobility is not what defines the European Mobility Week, nor is it the priority of most municipalities I know.
If you want to organize a conference on mobility in your municipality, contact us. We can help you or plan the conference from scratch.
A slow year due to Covid-19
M. Gilles Dostert, director general of Verkéiersverbond, presented the numbers that where below par compared to previous years and highlighted the fact, that most municipalities had been in lockdown during the decisive planning months from March through July and that 2021 could only become better. If your municipality participates, don't forget to register on the official site.
A great year due to Covid-19
M. Emile Eicher, president of Syvicol explained that Covid-19 made changes palpable and possible of which one could not have dreamt of in the years before. Cycling numbers are exploding all over the country and mobility solutions like Pédibus are having a comeback in many villages.
EVERARD Consulting & Communication was created to help municipalities in consulting for and/or developing attractive concepts in sustainability or in building resilience. Oftentimes our local authorities create great infrastructure or plan exciting new approaches to mobility - and in the process, communication is forgotten or underestimated. This is where we come in to help them getting the message through to their constituents. If you are a municipality or a city, do not hesitate to contact us for your project. We also create concepts for you if need be. It would be our pleasure to help you.
Owner and founder of
EVERARD Consulting & Communication