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Information Sheet

Book Cover
TitleDecarbonisation of transport worldwide
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Authors Energy Institute Knowledge Service team
Corporate Authors
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The situation

Transport produced an estimated 23% of global CO2 emissions in 2014
KEY CO2 Emissions tends: Excerpt from CO2 emissions from Fuel Combustion (2016 edition) IEA 2017.     Fig 10., Page 7.

“For transport, the 71% increase since 1990 was driven by emissions from the road sector, which accounted for three quarters of transport emissions in 2014. Despite efforts to limit emissions from international transport, between 1990 and 2014, emissions from marine and aviation bunkers grew even faster than those from road (marine: +69% aviation: +95%).” p9.

“The transport sector [in Africa] remains almost entirely reliant on oil products, with few policies in place to promote the use of alternative fuels, such as biofuels“.  African Energy outlook.  IEA, 2014. 

Initiatives, Policies, Legislation and Directives aimed at carbon reduction

International | Countries | Local Governments | Relevant Organisations | Technology


United Nations

The Paris Agreement  “brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change” 148 (including the UK) of the 197 Parties to the Convention have ratified the agreement, the central aim of which is to keep the global rise in temperature in the 21st century to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

An Actionable Vision of Decarbonization of Transport , Paris Process on Mobility and Climate (PPMC) February 2017.  “For the Transport sector, the goal is to largely decarbonize and move from 7.7 Gt emissions/year down to 3 or 2 Gt by mid-century.” “The PPMC proposes the development of a Global Macro-Roadmap through a phased action process, covering a 2020-2050+ timeline and thereby covering both short as well as mid- to long-term actions. This Roadmap aims to give a realistic (technically feasible) vision, with an operational focus for each segment of the Transport sector (people and freight; road, railway, aviation, waterborne; urban and rural)”.

“Transport counts for 24 percent of energy related greenhouse gas emissions. Without disruptive action, transport emissions can be expected to grow from 7.7 gigatonnes to around 15 gigatonnes by 2050. For 45 percent of countries, transport is the largest source of energy related emissions. . . over the last 12 months, the MobiliseYourCity initiative secured 35 million euros in funding and announced the start of developing Sustainable Urban Mobility plans in Morocco and Cameroon. The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) is supporting an additional 40 countries to realize the financial, and CO2 benefits of improved vehicle fuel economy. And Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme now has 173 certified airports worldwide, including 26 carbon neutral airports.

International Energy Agency

The IEA conducts a broad range of transport research and analysis, focusing on ways in which countries can improve the sustainability of their transport systems. Policy advice is given to governments on the effectiveness of implementing advanced technologies, improving fuel efficiency and shifting to lower-carbon fuels and transport modes. 

IEA The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) –  a partnership of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Transport Forum of the OECD (ITF), the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis, and the FIA Foundation – works to secure real improvements in fuel economy and the maximum deployment of existing fuel economy technologies in vehicles across the world.

Fuel Economy Policies Implementation Tool (FEPIT) allows countries to analyse potential outcomes of different policy options based on the characteristics of their vehicle fleets in a range of different scenarios.  It also aims to support countries as they seek to promote fuel economy policies.

IEA Mobility Model Partnership (MoMo)  “is a global transport spreadsheet model that has been developed since 2003. It contains detailed by-mode, by-fuel and by-region historical data and projections to 2050 for the transport sector as well as the sector's energy and greenhouse gas implications.” 

Electric Vehicles Inititiative - EV 30@30 campaign 8 June 2017.  – “sets a collective aspirational goal to reach 30% sales share for electric vehicles by 2030.” Supported by Canada, China, Finland, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden.  Webpage gives a brief description of the status, and aims, of each country in relation to electric vehicles.

World Energy Council (WEC)

World Energy Scenarios: Global Transport Scenarios 2050  Over the next four decades, the global transportation sector will face unprecedented challenges related to demographics, urbanization, pressure to minimize and dislocate emissions outside urban centres, congestion of aging transport infrastructure and growth in fuel demand.
In light of these challenges and the levels of uncertainty, the World Energy Council (WEC) decided to re-examine the future of the transport and mobility sector by building Global Transport Scenarios to 2050.” Includes assessments on the development of transport sections in Africa and the Middle East as well as more developed areas of the world.

United National Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

UNECE Renewable Energy Status Report 2017  This report covers 17 of the 56 UNECE countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).

Transport Sector
Renewable energy can be used in the transport sector to replace fossil fuels with liquid or gaseous biofuels, and to power electric vehicles. Countries in the region continued to harness renewable energy in transport. Belarus has a reported liquid biofuels production capacity of 50 million litres of biodiesel per year, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has a production capacity of 30,000 tonnes of biodiesel per year, and Ukraine has a production capacity of 500,000 tonnes of biodiesel and 131,000 tonnes of ethanol per year. 

Biodiesel production in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia started in 2007 and is based on rapeseed (canola).71 The production is used for the sale of a B6 blend with diesel as well as for pure B100 biodiesel. Two additional biodiesel refineries have been announced for the country, one of which will use sunflower and soya as feedstock and is expected to produce 13,000 tonnes of biodiesel per year.

Electric mobility promotion programmes also are emerging in the region. In Ukraine, electric vehicles are developing rapidly. At least 1,700 electric vehicles were operational in 2016, and this number is expected to increase to 7,000 by the end of 2017. In Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall opened two electric vehicle charging stations, and the number of stations is expected to reach 100 by 2018. Currently, some 50 electric vehicles are being driven in the country.74 Belarus started a pilot production of electric buses in 2016. The country expects to reach 30,000 electric vehicles by 2025.75 With this target in mind, 20 charging stations are planned to be put into operation every year.”

World Health Organization (WHO)

Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP)  receives policy direction from the meeting of ministers of the transport, health and environment sectors, and is driven by a steering committee.

The Amsterdam Declaration (2009)   defines the mandate for the PEP’s activities and included the goal: “reduce emissions of transport-related greenhouse gases, air pollutants and noise” – “by supporting a shift in the vehicle fleet towards zero- or low-emission  vehicles and fuels based on renewable energy; promoting a shift towards clean transport modes and fostering electric mobility as well as ecodriving;”

European Environment Agency

Greenhouse gas emissions from transport EEA,  Last modified 22 June 2017.  Total greenhouse gas emissions from transport, including carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), methane (CH 4 ) and nitrous oxide (N 2 O), are analysed in this indicator. Emissions are split into road transport, railways, domestic navigation, domestic aviation, international aviation and maritime transport.

"The EU's overall goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport (including international aviation but not maritime bunkers) by 2050 to a level that is 60 % below that of 1990. This includes the intermediate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 20 %, compared with 2008 levels, by 2030 (+8 % compared with 1990 levels). Similarly, shipping emissions (international maritime bunkers) are to be reduced by 40 % from 2005 levels by 2050. These overall transport targets are monitored annually and are in line with the target for the overall economy of a 20 % reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels. Other transport policies that support the achievement of these targets, such as the various regulations that set CO emission targets for new passenger cars and vans, are also monitored in the Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM).

As the transport sector is not included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS sector), it is the responsibility of Member States to reduce transport emissions through national policies (for all non-ETS sectors, a 10 % reduction against 2005 levels by 2020 is foreseen), as opposed to sectors covered by the ETS (e.g. energy industries and industrial installations), where the emission reduction objective is to be achieved through an EU-wide trading scheme."

Energy efficiency and specific CO2 emissions EEA, Jan 2017.  Has charts comparing CO2 from different modes of transport  

  • Specific CO2 emissions from the road transport sector have decreased since 2000, mainly because of past improvements in the fuel efficiency of passenger cars. An EU regulation sets emission performance standards for new passenger cars,  which is expected to further reduce CO2 emissions as a result of emission targets of 130 g/km and 95 g/km targets that it sets for 2015 and 2021, respectively. A separate regulation sets emission standards for light commercial vehicles (vans), with a 2017 target of 175 g CO2/km and 147 g CO2/km by 2020.
  • Although decreasing, the CO2 emissions from the air transport sector are still considerably higher than those from road transport, while rail remains the most energy efficient mode of passenger transport.
  • The specific energy efficiency of light and heavy duty trucks has improved slightly since 2000, but road transport still consumes significantly more energy per tonne-kilometre (tkm) than rail or ship freight transport. CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles are also expected to decrease in view of the emission targets of 175 g/km and 147 g/km set for 2015 and 2020, respectively.

European Union (EU)

EU Transport policy for 2010: time to decide: white paper. COM(2001)370 final.    had two targets: a 20% reduction from 2008 levels by 2030, and a 60% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. The proposed 2030 EU Climate and Energy policy framework (adopted October 2014) reiterates these goals.

White paper 2011: Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system  
By 2050, key goals will include:
• No more conventionally-fuelled cars in cities.
• 40% use of sustainable low carbon fuels in aviation; at least 40% cut in shipping emissions.
• A 50% shift of medium distance intercity passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and waterborne transport.
• All of which will contribute to a 60% cut in transport emissions by the middle of the century.
In 2016, the Commission Services published an Implementation report on the 2011 White Paper giving update of progress so far – “there is still little progress achieved towards the goals set 2011”

EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED)  (2009/28/EC) set out biofuels sustainability criteria for all biofuels produced or consumed in the EU to ensure that they are produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. On 30 November 2016, the Commission published a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive to make the EU a global leader in renewable energy and ensure that the target of at least 27% renewables in the final energy consumption in the EU by 2030 is met.

“In April 2009, Directive 2009/30/EC was adopted which revises the Fuel Quality Directive [Directive 98/70/EC]. It amends a number of elements of the petrol and diesel specifications as well as introducing in Article 7a a requirement on fuel suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of energy supplied for road transport (Low Carbon Fuel Standard). In addition the Directive establishes sustainability criteria that must be met by biofuels if they are to count towards the greenhouse gas intensity reduction obligation.”
Webpage include status and targets for various transport fuels and a table of Electric charging points existing in 2011 and targets proposed for 2020.

EU launches clean fuel strategy  24 January 2013 “an ambitious package of measures to ensure the build-up of alternative fuel stations across Europe with common standards for their design and use. Policy initiatives so far have mostly addressed the actual fuels and vehicles, without considering fuels distribution. Efforts to provide incentives have been un-co-ordinated and insufficient.”


IEA policies and Measures databases - offer access to information, country by country, on energy-related policies and measures taken or planned, by IEA member countries (and a few others), to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and support renewable energy development and deployment. 


Government of Canada to develop a national Zero-Emissions Vehicle Strategy by 2018  In 2015, light-duty vehicle emissions accounted for approximately 50 percent of Canada’s transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and 12 percent of the country’s total emissions


Already now, the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere and Turku are running battery electric buses, and at the same time expanding fast charging systems for buses. Currently, the e-bus systems put in service in Finland are based on the concept of opportunity charging, meaning fast charging – approximately three minutes – at the terminal points."


Association nationale pour le développement de la mobilité électrique   The ADVENIR programme is encouraging the installation of 12,000 EV charging stations


Smart and low carbon urban mobility in India  UN Climate Change Conference, December 2014
  • Electric Vehicle Scenarios and Roadmap for India;
  • Case Study of Metro Rails in Indian Cities; and
  • Second-Generation Biofuel Potential in India: Sustainability and Cost Considerations



“for electric vehicles there is no purchase tax, no VAT, reduced annual fee and reduced benefit tax for electric cars used as company cars. In addition, electric vehicles have free passage on toll roads, access to public transport lanes and free passage on ferries connecting national roads.” IEA EV30@30 campaign, June 2017 


Nigeria’s National Policy on Transportation (2015) UN Environment - Nigeria  commits government to developing and implementing a strategy for public transport, that walking and cycling become a desired choice of travel for residents and reducing reliance on the private car. In addition, the Draft National Policy on Cycling 2014-2017 aims to ‘make our cities’ roads cycle friendly, and get 20% of Nigerians cycling by choice before the end of 2016.

United Kingdom 

Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation Ordern - regulates biofuels used for transport and non-road mobile machinery. Department of Transport, 5 November 2013    The RTFO only covers biofuels used in the transport and NRMM sectors

Low Carbon technologies – Policy – what the UK government is doing about low carbon technologies

Green Hydrogen Standard: call for evidence Consultation outcome Closed organisation: Department of Energy & Climate Change Updated: 19 August 2015

Low carbon vehicles: £60 million for propulsion technologies  News story -  Innovate UK, Updated:  11 May 2015

Energy Innovation Programme, 2016 to 2021 The government’s energy innovation programme and guidance to apply for available funding.  BEIS 30 Oct 2016 (updated 21 Apr 2-17)
See also: – Decarbonisation of transport in the UK - Information sheet,  Energy Institute, 22 May 2016

Local Governments  (a few examples)


London Mayor - World’s first hydrogen double-decker bus will be trialled on London’s roads in 2018; all new single-deckers for central London to be zero-emission.”   Major of London Wensite,  30 November 2016
“Sadiq Khan [The Mayor of London] is calling on other cities to follow London’s lead and work together to challenge bus manufacturers to produce more zero-emission buses and make cleaner bus technology cheaper.

Eleven other major cities – including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Cape Town – have already responded to the call and agreed to begin moves to phase out their procurement of pure diesel buses by the end of 2020. In addition, Paris, Madrid and Mexico City have committed to removing diesel buses from their cities by 2025.”


(Electric Vehicle Growth in California – infographic.  Moody’s Investment Service.   “California’s 2030 carbon reduction and environmental policy goals are creating clear policy incentives supporting greater use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the state.”)

More than $92 million has been awarded for the construction of hydrogen refuelling stations throughout the state for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) 

The Energy Commission has awarded more than $37.1 million for developing and deploying heavy duty natural gas trucks and installation and upgrades to a wide assortment of fuelling stations. 

Biofuels: Ethanol, Diesel Substitutes, Biomethane Ethanol (E-85) and Flex Fuel Vehicles As of 2012 there were 71 stations in California dispensing E-85 and the Energy Commission has plans to fund over 180 new E-85 locations by 2016. 

Organisations relevant to the decarbonisation of transport

Advanced Propulsion Centre  will, in the UK, invest in technologies and their associated products, processes and people where they will enable low carbon propulsion systems to achieve production over the next 10 years.

Energy Innovation Board  The Energy Innovation Board provides strategic oversight of energy innovation programmes. UK.

NGVA Europe    Avenue de Cortenbergh 172, 1000 Brussels, Belgium Office: +32 2 894 48 39 E-mail:  NGVA Europe represents leading companies and associations from Europe involved in natural gas and biomethane as a vehicle fuel, including manufacturers of vehicles and components, gas suppliers and gas distributors.  NGVA Europe is committed to expanding the market for Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs). Natural gas offers substantial benefits to the environment. It emits less CO2 than any other hydrocarbon and has very low pollutant emissions (particulate matter and nitrogen oxides or NOx)

Office for Low Emission Vehicles Part of  UK Department for Transport, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills andDepartment of Energy & Climate Change “The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) is a team working across government to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV). We are providing over £900 million to position the UK at the global forefront of ULEV development, manufacture and use. This will contribute to economic growth and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution on our roads.

Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT)  is a multi-stakeholder partnership of over 90 organizations (representing UN organizations, Multilateral and Bilateral development organizations, NGOs and Foundations, Academe and the Business Sector). Goal is to mobilize global support to promote sustainable, low carbon transport and thereby reduce the growth of GHG emissions generated by land transport in developing countries and maximize the contribution of transport to poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Renewable Transport Fuels Group (Renewable Energy Association) The focus of the RTFG is to promote low carbon renewable transport in the UK. The implementation in full of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) is a key focus for the Group

Technology relevant to decarbonisation of transport


Hydrogen- powered aircraft takes to sky in Germany  E&T, The IET 29 Sep 2016

Sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAF)  IATA (2017) IATA member airlines and the wider aviation industry are collectively committed to ambitious emissions reduction goals.  Page contains links to:  IATA Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels Strategy (nd); Fact sheet - Alternative fuels November 2016);  IATA Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap (2015); etc

Solar Powered aircraft: Solarimpulse – exploration to change the world  “We made it around the world. 40,000 km without fuel, a first for energy”



Electric Cars
Global EV outlook 2017.  IEA.    “The number of electric cars on the roads around the world rose to 2 million in 2016, following a year of strong growth in 2015, according to the latest edition of the Global EV Outlook. “ transport energy and CO2 emissions have increased 28% since 2000”

UNECE.  Electric Vehicle Regulatory Reference Guide 2014  Gives an overview of the state of electric vehicles worldwide -  regulations in place for battery performance, recycling and reuse; onboard and offboard  charging systems; regulatory incentives

Electrification of railways across the world has the potential to significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

India: the railway network is the single largest consumer of electricitiy (about 18 TWH pa) or 2% of the country’s total power generation.  Decarbonization of Indian Railways, Climate Policy Initiative, Revised March 2017. 

UK: Network Rail  Electrification of the railway allows for faster, greener, more reliable train journeys, improves passenger services and supports economic growth in Britain Benefits of electric trains “Better for the environment: their carbon emissions are 20 to 35 per cent lower than those from diesel trains, and there are no emissions at the point of use, improving air quality in pollution hot spots, such as city centres.”

Further reading on transport technology

Transport Fuels Technology update service (available for logged in EI Members only)

Contains abstracts of periodical articles covering all forms of transport fuels including those such as LNG and LPG which produce less carbon than petrol and diesel; and those that minimise carbon production even more such as alternative aviation fuels.  Other forms of propulsion are also covered such as fuel cell vehicles and solar propulsion.

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