Mobility and Carbon: The Blind Side of Transport Fuel Demand in the Developed and Developing World

February 15, 2011 - 12:00pm
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A new "Great Wall" has emerged in China, this one a string of miles of cars stuck in traffic. Emissions from road transport in developing countries are expected to rise sharply in the coming decades if current trends continue. Projections of passenger and freight activity, vehicle use, and CO2 emissions push up overall CO2 emissions by a factor of three in Latin American and five in Asia by 2030, even with fuel economy improvements. The increase in car use is in part a result of growing incomes and economic activity, but it also reflects the poor quality of transit and non-motorized travel options in Latin American and Asian cities. This talk reports on work done for the World Bank to re-frame the problem as a transport problem with carbon emissions as a symptom or poor transport. Low carbon fuels and new vehicle technologies can help lower CO2 emissions and often have important health and livability benefits as well. However, the lower emissions per kilometer that these measures produce can be overwhelmed by rapidly growing kilometers of travel. Further emissions avoidance, possibly more than with technology alone can be obtained by strong policies, backed with fuel pricing measures and strong land-use planning. These will lead to high quality transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, traffic management, and appropriate pricing of transport facilities and services. Such policies will improve services for large portions of the population, and are also likely to moderate the growth in car ownership and use and thus help hold back the increase in CO2 emissions. The focus is on Latin America, but we present studies of China, India and Viet Nam that echo the same theme. Moreover, we use an example from Mexico City's Metrobus BRT to show that the co-benefits of CO2 savings from a good transport project can give CO2 savings much greater than those from technology alone. References: (Latin America) (CHINA) (Hanoi, Viet Nam) . (Developed Countries)

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