ERF Director General moderates key discussions on Greening Road Infrastructure

Brussels| 05 March 2024

 The European Road Federation (ERF) Director General took the lead as moderator at the “Infrastructure Maintenance and the Decarbonization Challenge” event, hosted by the European Parliament Intergroup on Long-Term Investments and Competitive European Industry.

The European Parliament Intergroup, serving as a forum for Long-Term Investment and Sustainable & Competitive Industry, has played a key role in facilitating discussions that bridge the gap between sustainable finance, the European Union’s budget priorities, and the implementation of transformative initiatives like the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan as well as stimulate discussions on the conditions needed for European industry to thrive.

The event, expertly moderated by the ERF Director General, boosted an interesting exchange on sustainability, circular economy practices, resilience, and climate adaptation within the road sector. Stakeholders discussed pressing issues such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, optimizing construction processes, and enhancing energy efficiency across road infrastructure.

Preventive road maintenance emerged as a key strategy in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing energy consumption associated with vehicular traffic. Research underscores the significant environmental benefits derived from proactive infrastructure upkeep.

Central to the conference’s agenda was an exploration of the essential role of infrastructure maintenance in advancing carbon neutrality objectives. Representatives from public authorities, financial institutions, and the construction sector gathered to identify/discuss strategies for decarbonising road infrastructure.

MEP Dominique Riquet, chairing the conference, highlighted the urge for increased investments and maintenance to achieve a resilient European road infrastructure (one of the densest in the world), particularly in light of its aging framework built predominantly in the 1960s and 1970s.

The ERF Director General then introduced a lineup of speakers who delivered engaging presentations:

  • Jocelyn Fajardo (Administrator, DG MOVE, European Commission) emphasized the EC’s commitment to transport decarbonisation. He highlighted strategies such as modal shift and greening transport services, alongside existing measures like life cycle analysis that should be made on a common methodology across EU countries, digitalization, better use of low emission materials and green procurement.
  • Steve Phillips (Secretary-General, Conference of European Directors of Roads – CEDR) stressed the importance of a harmonised approach to road network and fostering collaboration between road administration and industry stakeholders on skills amongst other things.
  • Jean-Pierre Paseri (Vice-President, European Construction Industry Federation – FIEC) unveiled interesting insights on the involvement of FIEC in DG MOVE Working Group on Decarbonisation of Transport Infrastructure Construction. He also called for increased investment in infrastructure maintenance and low-carbon solutions. Finally, he emphasized the need for harmonized standards and training for public authorities and workers.
  • Erick Constensou (Head of Technical and Road Environment Department, Conseil Départemental de Haute-Garonne, France) highlighted challenges in road maintenance and proposed solutions to reduce the carbon footprint, including digital tools, innovation, and recycling techniques.
  • Juan José Potti (Executive President, Asefma, Spain) introduced the International Road Maintenance Day initiative and offered recommendations for achieving circular economy goals through road maintenance, including the production of emissions maps.
  • Gautier Chatelus (Deputy Director of Infrastructure and Mobility, Investment Department, Banque des Territoires, Groupe Caisse des Dépôts) stressed the importance of investing in an infrastructure that contributes to  more decarbonised mobility,  such as parking lots and EV charging stations.

In his closing remarks, Christophe Nicodème thanked the speakers for their multi-faceted perspectives on road infrastructure and reiterated the stakeholders’ commitment to adopting a holistic approach for decarbonisation of road infrastructure, emphasizing the need of breaking down silos and fostering collaboration across different actors.

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