Transportation is one of Romania’s major problems, so how do we integrate sustainable business models in the automotive industry and change the way we move? How do we integrate more green cars in our smart cities? Important questions asked at BR’s recent Environmental & Sustainability Summit 2021 were promptly answered by Adrian Huma, Sector Head Automotive, Transportation & Logistics at ING Bank Romania, speaking in the Sustainable Communities panel.
“I think the first condition to integrate green cars in a smart city is to have the green cars and to have the smart city. Green cars are becoming more and more present among us, but there are still only a few of them for various reasons, such as costs and infrastructure. Here we also have a `chicken or the egg` type dilemma. The more developed the infrastructure, the more people will tend to buy such cars and vice versa. If there are enough cars, then more investments will be made in infrastructure projects.
Today, we are mostly talking about electric cars, but in the future, we will see more types of green cars. We already know that hydrogen technology is quite advanced, already cars using hydrogen are being driven in many parts of the world. In addition, hydrogen is an e abundant resource, thus, more and more manufacturers and more and more governments are thinking about investing in hydrogen technology. There are also projects that are working on technologies that will allow the continued use of combustion engines, but with environmentally friendly fuels.
So there are many options in front of us, we will see more and more innovations in this area, that’s for sure, and their integration in cities will probably depend on the availability and affordability of charging/filling infrastructure. It will also depend on incentivizing people to adopt them, through certain facilities that will be available to those who will drive such cars.”
How does ING Bank approach sustainability in the Automotive, Transportation & Logistics sectors?
“Transportation, mobility and automotive, are sectors of interest to us as a bank, both globally and locally. And making these sectors sustainable sectors also from a credit portfolio perspective is of utmost importance. We are globally committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our lending portfolio that we have committed towards these sectors, in line with the provisions of the Paris Agreement. We are on track with this strategy (the Terra project), and the progress is published on the Bank’s website.
We are quite interested in getting involved in such projects, we would also like to see in Romania as many projects as possible to encourage the sustainable development of both the automotive sector and transportation /mobility. As concerns transportation and mobility in order to see more projects, it will help to have first a legal framework to help both their development and implementation, and we are really looking forward to that.
Until then, if there is to talk about specific actions, we just launched a green loan dedicated to the acquisition of electric and plug-in hybrid cars, with a special interest rate (2% lower than standard) and very light conditions to access the loan ( no advance, no casco, no car key at the bank, only the proforma invoice from the dealer which certifies that the car to be purchased is an electric or hybrid plug-in… and of course the passing of the credit score – enough incomes to allow reimbursement – this is done on spot by verification with ANAF).
Regarding smart cities in Romania, I think we should not be afraid to dream big and look at what others are doing in other parts of the world. There are a lot of examples of cities around the world, which evolved tremendously in a couple of decades, or even less. Perhaps it sounds too big, but I think we can look at cities like Singapore, or cities from South Korea, which are quite good examples of smart and sustainable cities. And regarding South Korea for instance, this country is now an exporter of smart city technologies.
But let’s go back to what we can do here, in Romania. I think we should start from the beginning: a smart city cannot exist without data and without the ability to collect data. So, first of all, a city should be able to deploy an infrastructure capable to collate all kinds of data: air quality, traffic, temperatures etc. After collecting this data, it should be processed and then interpreted. This should be a common action of both the private sector and city management/public administration. City management should establish the priority of projects and private sector (why not also civil society?) provide technical solutions and afterwards implement the selected ones. Solution selection should stay with the city management in consultation also with the community, while implementation should be done by the private sector.
After implementing a data collection infrastructure and finalizing the interpretation of processed data we will know where we stand, and then we can act accordingly: propose actions /projects to make the city smarter. Otherwise, it is difficult to suggest a way forward when you don’t know exactly the status/ where are you right now.”
So what are the most important trends in the urban ecosystems today?
“From what I have noted, the majority of trends go towards a symbiosis between the living (people, animals, vegetation) and non-living elements (building, roads, data infrastructure). More and more concepts are targeting an increasing weight of green areas within the cities. Also, the trend is to develop smaller cities and avoid further development of megacities, as these become more and more difficult to manage. While up to 70% of the world population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050, more than half is living and will live in cities with less than 500,000 inhabitants. Ensuring access to quality and affordable education and health services should be also a priority for city managers.”