2 Challenges and opportunities in the transport sector
Unsustainable trends The challenges for the transport sector in becoming green are made obvious by observing current trends, whereby:
■ Overall demand for transport activity (for both passenger and freight) is growing rapidly, and it is predicted to roughly double between 2005 and 2050 (IEA 2009b);
■ Transport activity is increasingly motorised (private cars for passenger transport and lorries for freight, almost all of which are propelled by internal combustion engines);
■ The global vehicle fleet is set to multiply three or four- fold in the next few decades, with most of this growth set to occur in developing countries. In 2050, two-thirds of the global vehicle fleet is expected to be in non-OECD countries; and
■ Technological improvements such as fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative power sources have not been rapid enough to offset the impacts of this growth.
These trends translate directly into various costs for the environment, society and economy including:
■ Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG);
■ Congestion (and associated losses in productivity of urban areas);
■ Resource depletion and land grab;
■ Degradation of human health (through air pollution, noise, vibration, etc);
■ Reduction in human security (through traffic accidents);
■ Reduction of accessibility and severance of communities; and ■ Loss of biodiversity.
It should be acknowledged that such costs vary significantly between regions, and that priorities may differ between regions and by urban and/or non- urban area.
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China 2007 (IEA estimate) India Japan 2015 Vehicle ownership (right axis) Figure 2: Passenger light-duty vehicle fleet and
ownership rates in key regions Source: IEA (2009a)
Greenhouse gases The transport sector’s consumption of fossil fuels translates into around a quarter of global energy-related
2. Infrastructure is not limited to roads, bridges and railways, but also includes supporting infrastructure such as parking facilities, fuelling stations, etc.
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Fuel and natural resources The transport sector’s impact on natural resources is wide-ranging, including through manufacturing of vehicles and/or rolling stock (e.g. metals and plastic) and the construction of infrastructure2
and steel). Fossil fuels, engine oil, rubber and other consumable material (including biofuels, which in certain circumstances may deplete farmland for food production) are consumed through the operation and maintenance of vehicles.
Transport consumes more than half of global liquid fossil fuels (IEA 2008) and it is expected to account for 97 per cent of the increase in the world’s primary oil use between 2007 and 2030 (Figure 3).