Climate Action recently caught up with Karen Hamberg, Vice President, Industry and Government Relations at Westport Fuel Systems- a Gold Sponsor for the 8th Sustainable Innovation Forum,  about the future of the transport system.

1. Westport Fuel Systems provides advanced clean-burning fuel systems for a cleaner transportation future. Do you want to say a few words about what you do?

Westport Fuel Systems, with corporate headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia invents, engineers, manufactures, and supplies advanced clean-burning fuel systems and components to address the challenges of global climate change and urban air quality. With our global network, we deliver innovative products for transportation and industrial applications under 11 brands to customers in more than 70 countries including many of the largest and fastest alternative fuel engine and vehicle markets.

2. It is true that we have witnessed immense changes in the regulatory environment regarding emissions from transportation. Do you think the industry is ready for the changes?

The transportation sector has historically innovated in response to regulations specific to fuel economy, criteria air pollutant emissions, or engine/vehicle efficiency.  But the sector is now undergoing a profound transformation with The Paris Climate Accord signaling a strong call to action on greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The increasing availability of low-carbon fuels, the rise of a multi-fuel economy with natural gas, electric vehicles, biofuels, and hydrogen competing with diesel and gasoline, continued technological advancements and breakthroughs on both incumbent and new powertrains, the participation of non-traditional industry players with capital to invest in autonomous vehicles, and the emergence of new transportation companies have already begun to influence how people and freight are moved. There has never been a better or more exciting time to work on clean transportation technology.

3. What alternative transport and energy technologies do you think provide significant future business opportunities?

The transport sector is diverse and complex. The critical distinctions between on-road and off-road, light-duty and heavy-duty, and passenger versus freight means that we will see the deployment of different technologies and a range of low-carbon and renewable fuels depending on what application or duty cycle the vehicle is performing. This variability introduces incredible business opportunities but even more importantly it will require creative, strong, and adaptive policies to support early market creation activities and efforts to commercialize and scale the technologies and products.

4. Do you currently work on a particularly exciting project? 

Westport has a proven track record of developing and engineering engine and vehicle technologies that enable fleets to reduce their GHG emissions. In recent months, we have seen momentum pick up as global leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have validated natural gas and renewable natural gas as the best available climate alternative to diesel for the long-haul heavy-duty transport sector to reduce the climate impact of their fleet.

Westport’s next generation HPDI 2.0 technology provides heavy-duty truck and engine OEMs with a cost effective fully integrated natural gas solution that, when engineered into the OEM’s base diesel engine, results in the same high performance and fuel economy as the diesel truck that customers demand. The product delivers GHG emission reduction benefits of 20-95% in the heavy-duty freight sector, a sector that has historically been difficult to decarbonize given the challenge of economically displacing the energy density of diesel. The deployment of HPDI will provide OEMs with an economically competitive option for increasingly stringent GHG emission reduction requirements.

5. This year you are sponsoring the 8th Sustainable Innovation Forum. Why did you decide to get involved?

The Sustainable Innovation Forum running in parallel to COP 23 convenes key stakeholders, decision-makers, and influencers from around the world to advance a global dialogue on sustainability and climate change. Leaders from government, industry, environmental groups, academia, and civil society are at the Sustainable Innovation Forum to share best practices and challenges. It is important for Westport to contribute our perspective and expertise, but even more importantly to learn from the leading organizations represented in Bonn. The Sustainable Innovation Forum brings together those who see the incredible power of collaboration and cooperation and the importance of harnessing our collective intellectual horsepower.


Karen Hamberg will be speaking in the “Roadmap to a Sustainable Global Mobility System” discussion panel during the first day of the 8th Sustainable Innovation Forum, taking place alongside COP23, on 13-14 November in Bonn, Germany.