New Climate Economy Report Flags Transport as Key Area for Action to Keep Global Warming under 2°C

The 2015 New Climate Economy Report identifies 10 key areas of opportunity for stronger climate action, which will also bring significant economic benefits. Together, these could achieve at least 59% and potentially as much as 96% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to keep global warming under 2°C.

This analysis builds on a 2014 study for the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and C40, which found that 11 key low-carbon measures in the buildings, transport and waste sectors, where cities have the greatest power to take action, could generate annual savings of 3.7 Gt CO2e in 2030 and 8.0 Gt CO2e in 2050.100 The largest 500 cities by population could contribute annual savings of 1.65 Gt CO2e by 2030, nearly half the identified urban mitigation potential.

The ten key areas of potential achievement are:

  1. Accelerate low-carbon development in the world’s cities
  2. Restore and protect agricultural and forest landscapes, and increase agricultural productivity
  3. Invest at least US$1 trillion a year in clean energy
  4. Raise energy efficiency standards to the global best
  5. Implement effective carbon pricing
  6. Ensure new infrastructure is climate-smart
  7. Galvanise low-carbon innovation
  8. Drive low-carbon growth through business and investor action
  9. Raise ambition to reduce international aviation and maritime emissions
  10. Phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Most importantly, from a sustainable transport perspective, is the first area where the report states “All cities should commit to developing and implementing low-carbon urban development strategies by 2020, using where possible the framework of the Compact of Mayors, prioritising policies and investments in public, non-motorised and low-emission transport, building efficiency, renewable energy and efficient waste management.

Recommendation 7: “Galvanise low-carbon innovation” addresses the potential of key technologies to avoid ‘lock-in’ of carbon-intensive infrastructure, including buildings, electricity networks and transport systems. In relation to transport, especially in urban areas, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that transport could provide 19% of cumulative energy emissions reductions between its 6°C and 2°C scenarios by 2050. Furthermore, the IEA projections to 2035 show that as much as two-thirds of energy efficiency potential will remain untapped unless policies change as can be seen in the graphic below.

IEA potential energy emission reductions


Aviation is also an area of import in the report; Aviation is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 13% of fossil fuel use in transport and about 2% of global CO2 emissions. The report explains the measures that can lead to a carbon neutral growth from 2020.

ICAO emission reductions

Finally, on shipping, the report states that Emissions from shipping have increased sharply, to 949 Mt CO2 in 2012, or 2.7% of global CO2 emissions, up from 1.8% in 1996. By 2050, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) projects that CO2 emissions from shipping will rise by 50–250%. Again, scenarios are posed to address this problem as can be seen by their informative graph presented below.


IMO emisiions reductions


For a more details of these ten key areas of reductions, please download the full report here