Maximizing national mitigation ambition requires optimizing contributions from transport. The latest estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that the transport sector contributed nearly 23% of global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion in 2012. Transport, with an average annual growth rate of 2.0% from 1990-2012, is among the fastest growing sectors of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion.
Tracking emissions trends in the transport sector (in the context of economy-wide emissions) is an essential step in defining possible transport components of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) from UNFCCC parties, and in helping to determine required contributions from transport to establish and achieve national and global mitigation targets. Yet, tracking global averages is of limited use to countries who are developing their INDCs to support the upcoming COP21 meeting in Paris, and therefore we must have a clearer understanding of transport emissions trends and differentiation at national levels to take effective actions to reduce global transport sector emissions and achieve an IPCC-recommended 2-degree scenario (2DS).
To inform the discussion on transport’s contribution to CO2 emissions and transport’s potential role in mitigation, the SLoCaT Partnership has developed an analysis to illustrate national and regional transport emissions trends in three areas: (1) transport sector share of emissions relative to total emissions from fuel combustion, (2) growth of transport sector emissions, and (3) absolute and per-capita emissions from transport, as normalized by a number of key variables. A key observation of the analysis is the large differentiation among transport emissions trends in individual regions and countries, underscoring the need to take a heterogeneous approach to tackling transport sector emissions worldwide.
The SLoCaT/PPMC analysis includes the following highlights:
- In 2012 transport was the largest energy consuming sector in 40% of countries worldwide, and in most remaining countries, transport is the second largest energy consuming sector.
- In 2012, nearly two thirds of countries had a transport sector share of total emissions from fuel combustion greater than the global average of 23%, and the share of countries exceeding the global average is increasing over time.
- Transport sector emissions growth in Annex I countries averaged 0.5% from 1990 to 2012 (with negative growth of 0.8% from 2008 – 2012), and non-Annex I countries averaged 4.8% (with growth of 5.5% from 2008 – 2012).
- It is expected that by 2016 or 2017, transport emissions from non-Annex I countries will be larger than those from Annex I countries.
- About half of countries worldwide have experienced either high or very high growth (i.e. more than 3% or 5%, respectively), in the 1990-2012 period, however, from 2008-2012, 33% of countries worldwide experienced either zero or negative growth.
- Growth rates of EU-28 and OECD Americas, which were largely similar for 1990-2000 started to differ for 2000-2008 and show a marked difference for 2008-2012 (i.e. the EU-28 shows substantial negative growth (-2.2%) while OECD Americas shows a very marginal decrease (-0.2%).
- Within the non-Annex I countries the fastest growth at a regional level is in China (if considered as a separate region).
- Crucially, growth in transport emissions can be decoupled to some extent from economic growth. Annex I Parties in particular have limited transport emissions growth to well below GDP growth rates, and even non-Annex I Parties have also kept transport growth below GDP growth over this 12-year period (albeit by a much narrower margin).
- Globally, nearly 82% of transport emissions are generated from countries (both developed and developing) which have committed to official (conditional or unconditional) economy-wide emission reduction targets (whether absolute or as a reduction in energy intensity) under the UNFCCC process.
- While transport growth rates in Annex I countries with targets have reduced over the years, for non-Annex I countries with targets, transport emission growth rates have actually increased over the 2008-2012 period.
- Although the United States topped the rankings in absolute amounts of transport CO2 emissions for both 1990 and 2012, developing countries are emerging as large emitters in transport sector (e.g. China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia) and several European countries (e.g. France, Italy and United Kingdom) are dropping out of the top 10 largest transport related emitters in absolute terms.
- The top 10 transport CO2 emitters in 2012 contributed to 53% of total global transport CO2 emissions.
- Countries which have consistently kept gasoline prices above US$1/liter over the period of 2000 to 2012 (e.g. Japan, Netherlands, Uruguay) show clear reductions in transport emissions growth, and countries with gasoline prices above US$0.7/liter (e.g. many OECD countries) show only a marginal increase in transport emissions growth. However, for countries that have kept gasoline prices artificially low due to fuel subsidies, transport CO2 emissions have grown at a rapid rate during the 2000-2012 period.
- Average transport CO2 emissions per capita in 2012 in non-Annex I countries amounted to only 18% of the average emissions per capita in Annex I countries; however, the average annual growth rate in transport CO2/capita in Non-Annex I countries from 1990-2012 was around 3%, while in Annex I countries it was around 0.1% during the same period.
For more details, please see the report: Analysis on National Transport Sector Emissions 1990 – 2012
A detailed outline and objectives of the existing and forthcoming knowledge products are presented in the GHG methodological note.