Workers Power + Renewable Electrification of the Whole Economy

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2087 ... May 13, 2020

Workers’ Power + Renewable Electrification of the Whole Economy:
A Red-Green New Deal in Transport

Asbjørn Wahl

The transport sector represents one of the most serious challenges when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, which are increasing faster than from any other sector in society -- and at an ever-increasing pace (over 120 per cent globally over the last 30 years -- and still increasing in all parts of the world). In Europe, transport is the largest climate problem, accounting for 27 per cent of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017. It is also the only sector that has emissions above 1990 levels (Transport & Environment, 2018).

The use of private cars is by far the largest contributor to emissions in the transport sector. However, this article will mainly focus on freight transport. Heavy duty vehicles represent around a fifth of all EU transport emissions, and these levels are expected to continue to increase. Aviation is already a major and growing emitter, and in Europe, its emissions have doubled since 1990. As for... shipping, it is one of the largest GHG emitting sectors of the global economy. EU-related shipping is responsible for about one fifth of global ship GHG emissions.

The transport sector, globally as well as in Europe, has been, and is still, going through major transformations. Economic crisis, globalization of the economy, rapidly growing world trade, industrial restructuring into huge integrated supply chains, including the digitization of logistics, just-on-time deliveries, the development of the single market in the EU, followed by extensive deregulation have all contributed to this transformation.

Because of the global division of labour, forced through free trade agreements, the need for transport has increased immensely. Consequently, transport systems have changed dramatically. Cheap transport services are the blood flowing through the veins of the liberalized global economy. Two of the most important effects of this development have been major increases in GHG emissions and a massive deterioration in working conditions for transport workers -- and these two factors are clearly interlinked.

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