The transport sector has the capacity to nearly halve its CO2 emissions by 2050, and may therefore be easier to decarbonize than previously thought. Realizing such a major emissions cut would require further efficiency improvements in fuel consumption and, especially, the promotion of public transport in cities, alongside a large-scale shift to electric cars. These are key findings of the new study “Transport: A roadblock to climate change mitigation?” written by Felix Creutzig from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), together with other researchers from the MCC and scientists from other institutions, published in the journal Science.
Prior to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris the researchers point to a promising avenue for the transport sector to mitigate climate change. At present, the emissions of this sector account for 23 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Transport emissions are expected to double by 2050, according to IPCC scenarios, mainly because of rapid motorization in China, India, and Southeast Asia. But to achieve the 2° C target, the transport sector would need to stabilize if not halve its emissions by 2050.
“Large-scale electric mobility could be crucial in reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector by one half by 2050,” lead author Felix Creutzig says, who also contributed to the chapter on transport in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. Electric mobility at that scale includes car-sharing concepts, electric bicycles and rail transport.
“Efficiency gains will be very difficult to achieve with the conventional automobile fleet from 2025 on. In that context, a fuel shift will be the only remaining option to advance decarbonization.”
Given the continuing drop in battery prices, electric drives have a better starting position than engines running on biofuels or hydrogen, according to the authors. In fact, recent literature has shown that the price per kilowatt-hour has dropped from about $1,000 US dollars in 2007 to about $410 US dollars in 2014. Because of this development, prices for the year 2030 are projected to drop to $200 US dollars.
The Science paper bases its insights on IPCC AR5 transformation pathways and on the Integrated Model to Assess the Greenhouse Effect (IMAGE). Models that offer a systems view focus on what different energy sectors, like the transport sector, could contribute to climate protection.
The Science paper, however, examines transport-related issues within the sector by using more recent and, in some cases more specific, data on how people commute and travel. The results show that there are grounds for cautious optimism – provided policy will follow suit.
Climate protection solutions in the transport sector rely significantly on urban infrastructure policies. “The most effective form of climate mitigation is every single kilometer not driven. This is what also generates the most health benefits, for example by cleaner air,” Creutzig says. “Infrastructure investments in new train tracks or fast-lane bike paths, for example, are negligible when considering that they reduce the need to build more roads and parking lots.”
Such investments also result in positive path dependencies. For example, when parking is made more expensive in downtown areas, accompanied by an improvement of public transport, people tend to give up driving and use other forms of transportation in the city centers. Such shifts can then develop into more permanent habits.
At international climate summits, such as the upcoming Paris conference, urban transport and electric cars do not typically feature in the discussions. “When it comes to really transforming the transport sector on a path towards climate protection, global policy makers have perhaps been a bit timid,” co-author David McCollum from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) says. “If we were to replicate best-practice examples that we see throughout the world today, then we could start to harness the potential that’s out there.”
Reference of the cited article:
Creutzig, F.; Jochem, P.; Edelenbosch, O.Y.; Mattauch, L.; van Vuuren, D.P.; McCollum, D.; Minx, J. (2015): Transport: A roadblock to climate change mitigation?, Science, Vol. 350, Issue 6263, pp. 911 – 912
Fabian Löhe | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Researchers 'count cars' -- literally -- to find a better way to control heavy traffic
10.08.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine