Greening Urban Transport

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Decarbonising transport remains a challenge

Transport is responsible of almost 30% of global total final energy consumption, and around a quarter of greenhouse gas emission.

Decarbonising transport requires radical shift to renewables and energy efficient models. A combination of low-carbon approaches can cut transport emissions by almost 80%.

Renewables-based sustainable urban transport is key to the transition.

Urban transport is at the heart of low-carbon future

Renewable share in final energy use in transport must increase from over 3% to 56% by 2050

For this to happen, unnecessary private driving should be replaced by public transport and other energy efficient and sustainable options.

Under IRENA's 1.5°C Scenario electricity and biofuels would provide around 75% of transport fuels by 2050 making transport sustainable.

Urban policies enable sustainable transport systems

Sustainable transport systems require a well co-ordinated and integrated set of policies, within and beyond the transport sector, and within and beyond cities.

Cities can shape and accelerate the evolution of a sustainable urban transport sector through their varying roles.

Each of these roles differs from city to city and from country to country, but the large range of options for urban transport policy highlights that there is clearly something every city can do.

City-level policies encourage bahavioural change

Successful energy transition in the transport sector requires changes in the modal mix, urban infrastructure and land-use priorities.

Other city-level actions could include policies to reduce the demand for transport, for example by promoting telecommuting and other behavioural changes.

A combination of policies that avoid carbon emissions, promote a shift in transport modes and improve the sector’s efficiency offers a useful toolbox for urban leaders interested in remaking transport into a low-carbon sector.

Energy efficiency enables urban mobility

Low-carbon urban transport encourages transitioning from private driving to more energy efficient public transit modes.

Transit-oriented city development and promoting changes in behavioural and activites patterns of citizens result in shift to public transport which accelerates the transition.

Electric trains are climate solutions for megacities

Altogether, the world’s cities now have close to 200 metro systems.

San Francisco, Delhi, Chennai, Calgary and Riyadh are powering their metro systems in part with solar and wind power or have plans to do so.

Santiago de Chile’s metro system, serving 2.4 million people daily, is expected to soon source 42% of its energy needs from renewables.

Monterrey in Mexico relies on biogas from waste, and Medellin in Colombia on hydropower.

Electric vehicles are game-changers for green cities

Fossil fuels account for an overwhelming share of transport energy use.

Cities can mandate the blending of liquid biofuels to replace fossil fuels, or promote electric vehicles powered by renewable electricity. They can also incentivise the deployment of necessary infrastructures and distribute biofuels and charging stations.

Under IRENA's 1.5°C Scenario electric vehicles would rise to 1 780 million by 2050 if policy makers take the necessary steps today. In result, EVs would account for more than 80% of all road transport activity by 2050.

Electric buses are blueprints for pioneer cities

Shenzhen, China is the world’s first city with an entirely electric bus fleet operating since 2017

In Europe, the Scandinavian cities Oslo, Trondheim and Gothenburg are operating small fleets of e-buses. Future growth will be driven in large part by the EU mandate that by 2030, 30% of all bus purchases must be “clean”.

Many Indian cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai have begun to test e-buses on selected routes.

Forward-looking policies facilitate energy transition

Hundreds of cities have committed to renewable energy targets, for which renewables-based urban transport is key.

Concrete actions to transition away from vehicles running on fossil fuels are needed.

These actions can only be taken with the support of comprehensive and integrated policies.

The impact goes from local to global

Cities, as main economic engines, lead the way in decarbonisation of the urban transport as a step to a renewable-based sustainable and low carbon future.

See how Costa Rica is at the frontline of emission reduction efforts, integrating electrification in the transport sector.

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