The transport sector is not on track towards achieving sustainable mobility, according to the newly published Global Mobility Report 2017 (GMR). The GMR is the first study to assess the global performance of the transport sector and the progress made toward four main objectives: universal access, efficiency, safety, and green mobility. The publication covers all modes of transport, including road, air, waterborne, and rail transport. The report was produced by the Sustainable Mobility for All initiative (SuM4All)—a worldwide consortium of more than 50 leading organizations in the transport sector.
According to the report, apart from being inaccessible to many of the world’s most vulnerable, the transport sector today is plagued by high fossil fuel use, rising greenhouse gas emissions, air and noise pollution, an alarming number of road fatalities, and a reluctance to embrace digitalization.
The green mobility objective proposes four different quantified targets to be achieved by 2030 and 2050, one for each of four key dimensions: climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, air pollution, physical inactivity and noise pollution. The set targets are consistent with international agreements. The GMR report focuses on two primary impacts: climate change and air and noise pollution.
In the report, the Green Mobility framework lays out four targets for climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, air pollution, and noise pollution. Proposed principal indicators include:
Mitigation: global GHG emissions from the transport sector, disaggregated by purpose, income, and mode.
Adaptation: the number of countries that have taken action to build resilience against climate-related hazards and national disasters within the transport sector. The methodology for tracking this target will be based on a Transport Vulnerability Index, which is yet to be developed.
Air pollution: the number of premature deaths per year from air pollution caused by transport, with country-level data available from the Institute of Health Metrics and evaluation.
Noise pollution: the percentage of urban dwellers exposed to Lday-evening-night/Lnight annual average noise levels from transport above 55 dB/40 dB (percent of total inhabitants).
Findings in the green mobility area included:
The transport sector presently contributes 23% of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 18% of all man-made global economy-wide emissions. Global transport emissions grew at an average annual rate of 2% from 1990–2012, and up to now remains among the fastest growing sectors of CO2 emissions from fuel.
In 2012, transport was the largest energy consuming sector in 40% of countries worldwide, and in most of the remaining countries, transport was the second largest energy consuming sector.
It is expected that by 2017, transport GHG emissions from non-Annex I countries will be larger than those from Annex I countries (Annex I countries being developed countries and “economies in transition”).
Many countries that currently have very low transport emissions per capita are showing significant growth in this sector, and will need to take additional measures to keep transport emissions in check.
Transport sector emissions growth in Annex I countries (developed countries and “economies in transition” averaged 0.5% from 1990 to 2012, with a negative GDP growth rate of –0.8% from 2008–2012. Non-Annex I countries averaged 4.8% with a positive GDP growth rate of 5.5% from 2008–2012.
Among roughly 160 Nationally Determined Contributions representing 187 countries that submitted them as of 1 August 2016, 75% explicitly identify the transport sector as a mitigation source for reducing GHGs, and more than 63% of NDCs propose transport sector-specific mitigation measures. However, on an economy-wide scale, mitigation measures proposed in NDCs are expected to fall well short of a 2 degrees scenario. Based on existing transport-related policies and levels of ambition expressed in NDCs, the transport sector will also not be on track for a 2 degrees scenario by 2030 through the targets and measures proposed (assuming proportional sectoral contributions).
In low-and middle-income countries, 98% of cities do not meet air quality guidelines, compared with 56% of cities in high-income countries. As a result, only 10% of people around the world live in cities that comply with WHO air quality guidelines. Some of the most populous and rapidly expanding cities in the world suffer the most, as population growth leads to increases in congestion and fuel consumption, especially in the transport sector.
By 2030, advances in vehicle emission controls can cut air pollution from light and heavy-duty vehicles by almost 70% compared to 2010. To realize technological improvements in vehicle emission levels, it is necessary to reduce sulfur levels in diesel fuel to below 50 parts per million, and preferably to less than 10 parts per million.
In 2012, at least 125 million people—one in four Europeans—were exposed to daily road traffic noise levels exceeding the assessment threshold specified under the EU Environmental Noise Directive. As a result, at least 10,000 cases of premature deaths from noise exposure occur each year, with road traffic the dominant source.
The targets set for the Green Mobility objective, especially on climate change mitigation, call for the transformation of mobility. Achieving these targets requires that the transport sector be part of a net-zero- emission economy. Radical action could include the net de-carbonization of transport. Reduction of transport’s pollution contribution is also expected to have large positive impacts on the other objectives discussed in the conceptual framework.—GMR 2017
Some of the other key findings from the report include:
Many people continue to lack access to transport. In Africa, an estimated 450 million people—more than 70% of the region’s rural population—are still unable to reach jobs, education and healthcare services due to inadequate transport.
In urban areas, where an additional two billion people are expected to be living in cities by 2045, the growth in population is far outstripping the growth in public transport, thus limiting access to economic and social opportunities.
Transitioning to sustainable mobility would allow Africa to become food self-sufficient and create a regional food market worth $1 trillion by 2030.
The main transport technologies in use today came out of the industrial revolution. Since then, the volume of car traffic has increased tenfold, while cycling and public transport have seen hardly any growth.
Transporting a container of avocados from Kenya to the Netherlands requires 200 interactions and more than 20 documents, at a cost equal to that of shipping. Efficient supply chains can increase farmer income 10-100%.
When considering all transport costs—including vehicle acquisition, fuel, operational expenses, and losses due to congestion—the move toward sustainable mobility can deliver savings of $70 trillion by 2050.
Almost 1.3 million people die on the world’s roads every year and tens of millions are seriously injured. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29.
Aviation has seen a continuous reduction in the number of fatalities and fatal crashes over recent years. Some regions have even begun to experience zero fatalities.
The report’s tracking framework builds on indicators developed for the Sustainable Development Goals. The baseline established with this first edition will be updated every two years, enabling governments to measure progress in how they provide accessible, efficient, safe, and clean transport.