OECD transport ministers discuss challenges surrounding environmental sustainability, Ukraine reconstruction

Top transport officials of member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) gathered in Germany on Wednesday to discuss the transport sector's role in environmental sustainability and the reconstruction of Ukraine. The three-day 2024 International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit opened in the eastern Germany city of Leipzig, bringing together top transport officials from 66 ITF member nations, as well as over 1,100 senior officials and experts from more than 80 countries participating in various sessions. This year's gathering centers around discussions on the transport sector's role in environmental sustainability, and its impacts on climate, health and geopolitical crises. The transport sector is known to be responsible for roughly 30 percent of global CO2 emissions. Also high on the agenda was the topic of the resilience of global supply chains, which have faced disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions and high energy prices. A ministerial roundtab le focusing on supporting the recovery of Ukraine's transport sector ravaged by the Russian invasion was also scheduled. "We'll be exploring ways to speed up climate action in transport, and efforts to decarbonize the transport sector take place against the backdrop of wars, natural disasters and in other crises," ITF Secretary General Young Tae Kim said during a press conference at the Leipzig Trade Fair center. According to the ITF, Russia and Belarus, which are member countries, were not represented by an in-person delegation for the third straight year due to the ITF community's decision to minimize collaboration with the nations since the outbreak of the Ukrainian war. Russia and Belarus are only allowed to participate in statutory ITF meetings virtually. "Until this problem gets resolved, we can continue to apply the same principle going in the future," Kim said, suggesting that Russia and Belarus would likely be restricted in participation of high-level ITF talks in person until the war situation i s resolved. Marius Skuodis, transport minister of Lithuania, the president nation of this year's ITF gathering, stressed how the Ukrainian war and subsequent disruption of supply chain routes have underscored the importance of efforts by countries to develop alternative routes for export transportation. South Korea's delegation was led by Baek Won-kug, the country's vice transport minister. After a ministerial roundtable session on carbon neutrality in the transport sector, Baek told reporters that he shared the "long-term plans and goals of South Korea's basic net zero emission policy, including the government's vision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37.8 percent by 2030 compared to 2018 levels." Baek shared measures by South Korea to "transition internal combustion engine vehicles to eco-friendly cars, such as electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, as well as strategies to achieve the conversion of public transportation to eco-friendly vehicles." Regarding the Common Interest Group for Transpor t in Ukraine, an ITF mechanism created by the member countries Canada, Lithuania, Sweden and Ukraine, Seoul officials said they were in close consultations with the group on South Korea's participation in ITF-led multilateral efforts to support Kyiv. Shin Seung-kyu, head of the policy coordination office of Hyundai Motor Group, who was also invited to the roundtable session, shared the South Korean auto giant's experience in pushing forward its hydrogen cargo vehicle business. "Last year, we rolled around 300 hydrogen buses, but this year we expect to release about 2,000. It seems that Hyundai Motor Company could serve as a model for other countries with such rapid changes, and I believe that's why we were invited," Shin said. Source: Yonhap News Agency