The transport sector is the backbone of any productive system; enabling the mobility of people and goods means connecting people and nations and consequently fostering economic and cultural exchanges and social development. The complexity of the sector requires deploying a diverse mix of decarbonization solutions to meet the challenges within each of its four main segments: roadways, railways, aviation, and navigation.

Each segment has a different ease of decarbonization. Moreover, transport has strong interactions with other productive sectors and, in order to avoid rebound effects, it requires the power sector to be fully decarbonized and the cradle-to-grave energy supply chain to become increasingly efficient. Effective decarbonization pathways in transport rely mostly on technological solutions, new sustainable fuel development, and fuel shifts and are complemented by demand reduction and modal shift strategies.

Finally, different energy vectors will play a role on transport decarbonization. Direct electricity usage (through either batteries or electrified railways and electric road systems), hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and sustainable biofuels –properly allocated to hard-to-decarbonized modes – will all be important for transport decarbonization. As far as the use of biomass, scarcity of the resource and complexity in overall supply chain may suggest that
biofuels could be prioritized in particular modes of transport (e.g. harder-to-abate segments like long-haul aviation) or geographical areas (e.g. those not likely to proceed toward total decarbonization in the power sector in the near term).

The action areas in this sector include:

Case Studies

The following section outlines some of the most promising technologies in the decarbonization of transport. Some solutions may not be viable at large scale until the technology is more mature and it has been tested but there are a variety of solutions available.

Land transport

Light-Duty Vehicles
Heavy-Duty Vehicles
Guided Transport Systems

  1. Short-haul encompasses in-land waterways, coastal and intra-regional shipping; long haul navigation covers intercontinental or deep sea shipping ↩︎

  2. Innolith. “Innolith Energy Technology Brings 1000km EV Within Range.” Innolith. Last modified 2019. ↩︎

  3. Eurostat. “Road Freight Transport by Journey Characteristics.” Statistics Explained, 2016, ↩︎

  4. DHL.“DHL Freight Tests Electric Trucks to Lower its Overland Transport Emissions.” Last modified 2017. ↩︎

  5. Nikola Motor. “Nikola Motor.” Last modified 2019. ↩︎

  6. Innolith. “Innolith Energy Technology Brings 1000km EV Within Range.” ↩︎

  7. McKinsey & Company. “Electric Vehicles in Europe: Gearing up for a New Phase.” McKinsey. Last modified 2019. ↩︎

  8. Bosi, Marco.”eHighway @ BreBeMi.” Siemens Mobility. Published 2018. ↩︎

  9. Hacker, Florian. “Transitioning to zero-emission heavy-duty freight vehicles.” Öko-Institut e.V. Published 2018. Accessed August 23, 2019. ↩︎

  10. Ibid. ↩︎

  11. eRoadArlanda. “Electrified Roads - A Sustainable Transport Solution of the Future.” eRoadArlanda. Last modified 2017. ↩︎

  12. Laursen, Sejer R. “Ship Operation Using LPG and Ammonia As Fuel on MAN B&W Dual Fuel ME-LGIP Engines.” MAN Energy Solutions. Published 2018. Accessed August 23, 2019. ↩︎

  13. Tronstad, Tomas, Hanne Høgmoen Åstrand and Gerd Petra Haugom, Lars Langfeldt. “Study on the Use of Fuel Cells in Shipping.” EMSA European Maritime Safety Agency. Accessed August 23, 2019. (see table A.1) ↩︎

  14. The Beam. “The World’s First Electric Autonomous Container Ship To Set Sail In Norway.” CleanTechnica (blog). August 23, 2018. Accessed August 22, 2019. ↩︎

  15. E-Ferry, Ærø Kommune and Ærøfærgerne. “Baptism of the e-ferry Ellen.” E-Ferry. Last modified 2019. Accessed August 23, 2019. ↩︎

  16. Airseas. “Airseas - To Power with Wind.” ↩︎

  17. Traut, Michael et al. “Propulsive Power Contribution of a Kite and a Flettner Rotor on Selected Shipping Routes.” ↩︎

  18. Fritz, Falko. “Application of an Automated Kite System for Ship Propulsion and Power Generation. ↩︎

  19. The Guardian. “Norway aims for all short-haul flights to be 100% electric by 2040.” The Guardian. Last modified 2018. ↩︎