Suzana Kahn-Ribeiro, Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) WG III Coordinating Lead Author, talks about the link between fuels, transport, and technology in the context of climate change.
Suzana Kahn Ribeiro is a professor at the school of engineering Graduate institute (COPPE), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) Brazil. She is the deputy director of COPPE and the Coordinator of the university Green Fund for promoting the campus sustainable infrastructure.
She is also an ad-hoc consultant for the Brazilian Research and Development Council She was Vice-Chair of WG III of the IPCC and President of Scientific Committee of Brazilian Panel on Climate Change. She acted as lead author in the Fourth Assessment IPCC-2007. She worked as the Sub Secretary of Green Economy of Rio de Janeiro State Government and also had a position at the Brazilian Federal Government as the National Secretary of Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and experience with the IPCC?
I’m a mechanical engineer and for 10 years I worked in the private sector. I have a background in engineering, fuels, and climate change. Now, I’m the deputy director of my institution. I work with fuels and here in Brazil biofuels, such as ethanol, are quite important in relation to climate change, because of carbon sequestration. In this report I am a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of the Transport chapter. I have a long history with IPCC. I was also a CLA in AR4 on the Transport chapter, and prior to that I worked in AR3 as part of the technology chapter. In AR5 I was a Vice-Chair of Working Group III. Now, I’ve returned to be a CLA in AR6, again for the transport sector.
What does a CLA do?
We coordinate the whole chapter. It’s a challenging task because you manage people from different parts of the world, with different levels of expertise, personalities and amounts of time available, since they are volunteers. You rely on the goodwill of each other and you must make sure everyone is on-board. I enjoy the interaction and find it really interesting. It’s more a matter of communication and handling the relationships right than the technical parts of the process.
What’s your favourite part of the process?
When you get to the end! We’ve all become a family and we’re a team. There’s a sense of collective accomplishment that I really enjoy when a report is approved.
What is the transport chapter about?
Well, transport is responsible for a large portion of the world’s carbon emissions. It’s a sector with less alternative fuels – we rely a lot on fossil fuels. For example, it’s different from electricity where you can have other non- fossil fuel energy sources. Transport is mainly fossil fuel based (e.g. gasoline, diesel) and there’s a huge amount of infrastructure around transport that would be changed if fuels changed. It poses a big challenge, and due to an increased population, income etc. transport use has tended to increase, including land, air and sea transportation.
How is technology changing things?
Nowadays we are experiencing some transformation due to electrification, the Internet of Things (IoT), digitalisation, and artificial intelligence. For example, people use video teleconferencing rather than traveling. It may not always replace a face-to-face meeting, but there’s a lot of potential. In terms of the IoT and transport, there’s the potential to extend services to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who may be able to travel to places for education, health etc.
We are in a changing world in terms of transport and mobility. How these changes happen will impact how much our emissions are reduced and at what cost.