Transportation and Climate Change
How are the two linked

For more information on COP15, Climate Change and Transportation check the Q&A.

Transportation and Climate Change

"Given the role that transport plays in causing greenhouse gas emissions, any serious action on climate change will zoom in on the transport sector".
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary UNFCCC, Tokyo, January 2009

At the end of 2009 the new climate deal, the successor of the Kyoto Protocol, will be agreed upon during the United Nations Climate Change conference, entitled COP15, in Copenhagen, Denmark (7 December – 18 December 2009). The outcome will be a new international protocol binding industrialised nations to more stringent mandatory CO2 reduction targets. The conference represents a unique opportunity to achieve an ambitious overall agreement involving all the countries of the world and addressing the major threat to our planet that is global warming.

On a global scale, transport is responsible for more than 20% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which cause global warming. The real challenge lies in the fact that while other sectors have managed to reduce their emissions, in the transport sector emissions have been consistently increasing. Curbing this increase and reducing transport emissions is one of the vital steps in combating global warming.


Despite all the technological advances transport is not developing in a sustainable way. The main reason is the enormous increase in demand for both passenger and freight services. Nowadays the road sector is responsible for over 80% of the sector’s energy consumption. Emissions from the aviation sector are increasing rapidly. Today aviation is the second largest emitter of CO2 accounting for more than 13% of the total transportation energy use in Europe - emitting on a higher altitude and thus creating more damage than indicated by the per cent figure.

Railways are crucial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing sustainable transport systems. They provide the most energy efficient performance both in passenger/km and tonne/km. A trip from Brussels to Copenhagen by plane or car produces over 3.5 times more emissions than by train. Look it up on www.ecopassenger.org

Position paper and rail message