The decarbonisation of transport: Legal issues on the route to net zero
Edward Barratt, a Partner working with the Decarbonisation Team at Osborne Clarke, considers the legal issues that providers and authorities need to be aware of when working to achieve net zero carbon targets and how to approach them.
The transition to net zero will be led by innovative technology, but it will also need the right funding and delivery mechanisms. In order to ensure that these work as intended and have the necessary longevity, flexibility and capability, providers will need to anticipate the legal and regulatory issues that they are likely to face and subsequently put in place appropriate contractual structures to provide the necessary protections and allocations of liability.
In this article, we assess some of the main considerations for transport and mobility providers and, crucially, how solutions can be delivered when the regulatory and funding environment is only slowly adapting to the demands of new technologies and business models. In doing so, we draw on our experience of supporting clients that are leading the way in the provision of a wide range of sustainable transport and mobility solutions. We act across the transport and mobility eco-system on projects ranging from the roll-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure through to the development of alternative fuel supply chains and the role of urban mobility in delivering net zero.
The legal complexities brought about by MaaS
The role of integrated mobility solutions in urban environments is a core area that has the potential to accelerate the transition to net zero. The recent International Transport Forum (ITF) Innovative Mobility Landscape report highlighted the role of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) in delivering decarbonisation; however, the deployment of new mobility solutions raises a series of legal issues to resolve.
The shift to e-mobility has been led until now by a shift in technology and the development of new business models. What has been less evident is how these new technologies and business models are provided to consumers on an integrated, efficient basis. In the race for market share, providers have concentrated on building out their own propositions and are now faced with integrating these with other providers’ solutions. This includes the integration of trip-planning and payment technology with legacy fares and ticketing systems. Where the technological issues are capable of being addressed, for example, by the use of common APIs, there will still remain intellectual property, liability and data-sharing issues to be mediated through the contractual documentation.
From a legal perspective, any transport or mobility solution is a network of contractual rights and obligations. The simpler the solution for the end user, the more complex the underlying contractual arrangements are likely to be. Providers and public authorities need to be clear as to their respective roles and responsibilities. It will be important to ensure that the different elements of the contract documents work together effectively and promote the right behaviours by both customer and suppliers.