Finland’s Minister for Transport & Communications, Anne Berner, reveals why she’s championing MaaS
– by Laura Quinton, 03.01.18
It’s fair to say that the Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications, Anne Berner, is extremely dedicated to reducing the country’s emissions from the transport sector.
A key political initiative of Minister Berner’s term has been the reformation of the legalization governing the markets in the transport sector. The Ministry’s transport code reform has been seen as cutting-edge in Europe, through it’s heavy deregulation of existing transport legalization and for simultaneously pathing the way for fully holistic transport models such as Mobility as a Service. Berner has also pushed for Finland to take lead in the development and uptake of new technologies; 5G networks, autonomous transport and IoT-based solutions.
‘Climate change and its mitigation is one of the most significant challenges that the transport sector has to face. We believe that through digitalization and automation we can make a huge impact.’
In November 2017, Minister Berner travelled to India to attend the World Conference of the International Road Federation in Delhi and the Bangalore Technology Summit. During this trip, She communicated that Finland is looking to find common solutions for fighting climate change on a global scale; through cooperation among nations.
‘Climate change and measures to reduce emissions were one of the topics discussed during my trip (to India). We can benefit from and learn from each other for instance in supporting new, innovative mobility services that can help us achieve climate targets.’
Minister Berner foresees us eventually living in smart cities where everything and everyone will be inter-connected; where communication between machines and devices, virtual reality and automation will function on fast & safe wireless networks. Finland is definitely game to co-create with India, through piloting and experiments, intelligent and environmentally-friendly transport services and technologies that work in all conditions around the globe.
Finland is pretty committed to reducing emissions from the transport sector; we’re on course to drop 50 per cent of the 2005 levels by 2030. What kind of innovations have been/are being developed here in Finland in order to achieve this target?
Key measures to reduce emissions have been identified in our national energy and climate strategy adopted in November 2016. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has set up a parliamentary working group to propose concrete measures to reduce emissions especially in road transport. We are analysing the required changes in taxation and legislation in addition to state aid and other measures.
The fastest way to reduce emissions is to replace fossil fuels in transport by renewable or low-carbon alternatives. Therefore, state aid for low-emission forms of transportation will be granted (electric and biofuel vehicles). The physical share of biofuel energy content in all fuels sold for road transport will be increased to 30 per cent by 2030.
Increasing electric mobility is also one effective way of reducing emissions. The Finnish Government has agreed an investment program which aims to support citizens in purchasing electric cars and also in converting old cars for alternative fuels. Objective is that 10 per cent of the total car fleet in Finland would consist of electrics vehicles by 2030. Public funds will also be targeted to increase coverage of public charging infrastructure. Objective is to have one public charging point per 10 electric vehicles. Electrifying public transport is feasible in larger cities since it is emission-free, noiseless and air quality improvements.
The whole energy demand of the transport sector cannot be covered with renewable or low-carbon alternatives. Therefore, measures decreasing the whole energy consumption of the transport sector are necessary. Energy efficiency can be developed by supporting digitalization and utilization of intelligent transport system, developing new transport services and affecting the means of mobility and transport. Especially in larger cities cycling and walking should be increased. Therefore, public funds will be targeted to improve cycling paths.
You’ve been quite vocal in saying that Finland needs a transport system that is fully holistic – please expand on this concept.
A holistic approach for the transport system means that all of its “units” seamlessly work together, producing services that meet the end users’ various needs. These services are affordable and hassle-free to use. In regulative and policy terms it means that the framework conditions are technology neutral and mode-agnostic.
In other words, a holistic transport system is multimodal, open, interoperable and dynamic transport market where, for example, consumer could with single payment and on-demand obtain a whole array of mobility services. Simultaneously data flows through all of the transport system, making each of its unit smarter.
This concept is known as a Mobility as a Service and the goal is to create an ecosystem where, regardless of the mode of the transport, public transport and providers of private transport services would collaborate efficiently in a way that is beneficial for all parties – especially for the end-users.
The Finnish Act on Transport Services is one of the concrete examples of our determination in this field. It is a three stage legislative project that aims to streamline all of transport market regulations in to one package and promotes customer-oriented, market-based transport services on the basis of sound competition.
The new Act will also help to achieve environmental and climate goals by improving the energy efficiency of the transport system.
During your visit to India last month, for the World Conference of the International Road Federation in Delhi and for the Bangalore Technology Summit, you clearly communicated that Finland is looking at finding common solutions for fighting climate change on a global scale; through cooperation among nations. What were your key take aways from that trip?
Climate change and obligations to reduce emissions concern all of us. Finland considers international co-operation in the context of mitigating climate change highly important.
As an example of Finland’s active looking at finding common solutions for fighting climate change on a global scale through cooperation among other nations, Finland announced support for the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance on the road to the One Planet Summit on 12th December 2017. TDA was initiated by the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Portugal and France together with Michelin, Alstom and Itaipu Binacional. TDA takes actions towards a general mobilisation of countries, cities and companies to foster an in-depth transformation of mobility in support of the Paris Climate Agreement. Taking action collectively is urgent and necessary if we are to reach the Paris Climate Agreement goals as a planet.
Finland considers global cooperation to be especially important when it comes to reducing emissions from aviation and maritime sector. Finland considers the development of a comprehensive IMO GHG strategy, including and initial strategy, to be a key priority for the work in IMO for the next few years. In Finland’s view, IMO’s GHG strategy should apply globally to all ships regardless of flag under which a ship sails. Furthermore, Finland supports common goals and measures set by ICAO to reduce emissions from aviation.
Climate change and measures to reduce emissions were one of the topics discussed during my trip. We can benefit from and learn from each other for instance in supporting new, innovative mobility services that can help us achieve climate targets.
Where are the opportunities in India for Finland to collaborate in the development of Smart and Clean Cities? And what are the challenges, in your mind? ie. any thoughts on how one could collaborate in the implementation of a fully-integrated (holistic transport) service in India
Climate change and its mitigation is one of the most significant challenges that the transport sector has to face. We believe that through digitalization and automation we can make a huge impact. Through data, and especially sharing the data, is the key to increase the system level efficiency. This requires holistic approach and connecting transport also to the wider context of smart cities ie. energy, housing and land use. First step is to create a regulatory framework that enables digitalization and data sharing while retaining the citizen’s trust. Nordic My Data model provide trust on data privacy by putting individuals in control over their own data.
On a more practical level Finland and India both have very unique transport services environment. In Finland the challenge is the harsh climate conditions and low population density. In India the situation is quite the opposite. However the model to tackle our national challenges is completely scalable: to create through piloting and experiments transport services and technologies that work in all conditions around the globe. Also our requirements that call for for holistic interoperability for ticketing services of travel chains and open source model APIs created to support that work can be fully implemented by Indian companies and public transport authorities and vice versa offer possibility for Indian companies to establish business in Finland.
In the near future smart city means that everything and everyone will be connected. Communication between machines and devices, virtual reality and automation will require fast, nearly lag-free and safe wireless networks. Adoption of 5G technology will facilitate new services and increase companies’ business opportunities in many different sectors. This is where we look at the development of 5G and importance of the decisions to be taken at ITU in 2019 on the forward-looking spectrum policy.
Considering the scale difference (Finland’s population of 5.5m against India’s 1.3b!), how best can Finland’s Solutions be plugged in to the Indian Ecosystem and Markets? How is the Finnish government looking to support Finnish businesses “on the ground” in India?
Finland has companies – both well-established global enterprises and innovative start-up companies – that have top-of-the-field expertise and technological know-how. These technology solutions are scalable for vast Indian markets and through local manufacturing and partnerships they can be modified to meet the requirements and cost structures of any country.
The Finnish Government is collaborating with its Indian counterparts to identify these common interests and to facilitate the company cooperation to implement technology transfer, joint ventures and local manufacturing in a way that is beneficial for the companies of both countries.
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