New BSR, Cambridge Report Outlines Climate Risks for Transport Sector
San Francisco, July 28, 2014 /3BL Media/ - A new report published jointly by BSR and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Cambridge Judge Business School, with support from the European Climate Foundation, distills the key findings from the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report for the transportation sector—including road, rail, air, and ocean shipping.
The report, one in a 13-part series that translates the IPCC assessments for business leaders, reveals that the transport sector accounts for about a quarter of global energy-related carbon emissions—and without aggressive and sustained policy intervention, direct transport carbon emissions could double by 2050.
“The transport sector relies overwhelmingly on oil,” said Angie Farrag-Thibault, one of the report’s lead authors and BSR’s Associate Director, Transport and Logistics. “Without action, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation will continue to rise. Fortunately, this report points to a large number of options for reducing emissions.”
Findings from the report include:
- Impacts of climate change—including more intense droughts and floods, heat waves, thawing permafrost, and sea-level rise—could damage transport infrastructure such as roads, railways, and ports, requiring extensive adaptation and changes to route planning in some regions.
- Transport accounts for about a quarter of global energy-related carbon emissions. This contribution is rising faster than for any other energy end-use sector. Without aggressive and sustained policy intervention, direct transport carbon emissions could double by 2050.
- Cutting carbon emissions from transport is challenging given the continuing growth in demand and the slow turnover of stock and infrastructure as well as, for some modes, the suitability of alternative fuels with an energy intensity that is equivalent to fossil fuels. Despite a lack of progress to date, the transition required to dramatically reduce emissions could arise from new technologies, infrastructure, and modal shifts; the implementation of stringent policies; and behavior change.
- Many energy-efficiency measures have a positive return on investment. Examples such as improving aerodynamics, cutting vehicle weight, and bringing engines up to leading-edge standards could cut energy consumption by 30 to 50 percent by 2030. Some of these measures have a negative lifetime cost.
- Efficient, low-carbon transport systems have significant co-benefits, such as better access to mobility services for the poor, time-saving, energy security, and reduced urban pollution leading to better health. Integrated, far-sighted planning can create resilient, low-carbon-emission transport networks, particularly in new urban areas.
The report also examines the impacts of climate change and considerations by sector of the industry: road, rail, air, and ocean transport. And it looks at opportunities for building climate resilience (through land infrastructure, rail systems, inland waterways, and coastal adaptation) and for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (through modal shifts, demand reduction, vehicle efficiency, reduction in carbon intensity, and policy intervention).
“This report is very valuable for understanding the challenges and opportunities that climate change will pose for the transport sector,” said Ian Ellison, Sustainability Manager for Jaguar Land Rover. “Climate change requires a rethink of how we approach parts of the transport system, but new technologies, infrastructure, and modal shifts will offer a way forward that can also deliver new economic and business opportunities. Having clear information on hand is crucial for business leaders to prepare for this transformation.”
This research is part of BSR’s Business in a Climate-Constrained World initiative. For more information about BSR’s work in the transport sector, read about our Clean Cargo Working Group on ocean transport and sustainability, and our Future of Fuels initiative on reducing the sustainability impacts of commercial transportation fuel.