The researchers from Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands point to a promising avenue for the transport sector to mitigate climate change through a largescale shift to electric mobility and promotion of public transport in cities.
The transportation sector has the capacity to nearly halve its CO2 emissions by 2050 and, hence, to contribute far more than previously thought to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Realizing this would require further efficiency improvement and, especially, promotion of public transport in cities, alongside with a large-scale shift to electric cars. These are key findings of a study, in which Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) was one of the partners and which is now published in the American journal “Science”. Limiting global warming to less than two degrees compared to the pre-industrial level is the defined objective of international climate policy. But this two-degree target can only be achieved, if emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, are reduced considerably in the long term. At present, emissions of the transportation sector already account for 23% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. According to IPCC estimates, transport emissions are even expected to double by 2050 due to rapid motorization in China, India, and Southeast Asia. And: If other areas, such as the energy sector contribute less to CO2 reduction, the transportation sector has to make an even larger contribution. In their study “Transport: A roadblock to climate change mitigation?” reported in the journal “Science”, scientists led by Dr. Felix Creutzig from the Mercator Research Institute of Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Berlin, and Dr. Patrick Jochem, KIT, point out that the transportation sector may be easier to decarbonize than previously assumed in global emission scenarios. Prior to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, the researchers from Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands point to a promising avenue for the transport sector to mitigate climate change. This would require a large-scale shift to electric mobility and promotion of public transport in cities. “Large-scale electric mobility could be crucial to halving CO2 emissions of the transport sector by 2050,” lead author Felix Creutzig says. He emphasizes that electric mobility on this 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. A fuel shift will be the only remaining option to advance decarbonization.”