Some Positive Climate-actions for the Transportation Sector

Emissions from the transport sector are a major contributor to climate change—about 14% of annual emissions (including non-CO2 gases) and around a quarter of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Even more concerning: At a time when global emissions need to be going down, transport emissions are on the rise, with improvements in vehicle efficiency being offset by the increasing volume of travel activities. Considering that the scientific debate on GHG (particularly CO2) as the major cause of Climate Change has long been concluded, it is on this premise that we should encourage the purchases and use of electric vehicles (EVs).

An EV, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. An electric vehicle may be powered through a collector system by electricity from off-vehicle sources, or may be self-contained with a battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity. EVs include, but are not limited to, road and rail vehicles, surface and underwater vessels, electric aircraft and electric spacecraft. Using electric motors for transport helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially if the electricity is from low-carbon sources like solar and wind—plus, the fact that it generates less-polluting substances to the environment.

Figure 1 – Gas-emissions from Cars

Sample courses of action

  • Investments into electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Research and development into the technologies for vehicles, batteries, and charging.
  • Corporate commitments to the manufacturing, sales and servicing of electric vehicles.
  • Goevrnment programs to offer rebates and incentives to electric car purchases and use.

Big Messages

  • Considering that the world is largely dependent on coal and natural gas for electric power, the net effect of electrification will only be a slight change in emissions and temperature-impact.
  • Switching to electric modes of transport makes the biggest impact for the climate when electrical energy sources are low-carbon i.e., when EVs operates and recharges within a carbon-free electric-grid.

Some Key Dynamics

Increased Transport Vehicles Electrification will normally result to the following climate-advantages:

  • Overall efficiency is greater for electrified transport than for internal combustion engines, therefore, less fuels will be needed to power transport vehicles using electricity than oil.
  • Oil demand goes down as we electrify transport. However, (in the absence of a carbon price or other taxes) it is inevitable that some electrical demand for charging the eVehicles will have to be powered by coal and, to a more limited extent, renewables.

Potential Co-Benefits

  • Improved air quality from fewer internal combustion engines increases healthcare savings and worker productivity.
  • Creation of jobs in manufacturing, selling and servicing of electric batteries and vehicles.

Equity Considerations

  • Although costs will be expected to go down, but electric vehicles may not be affordable or available to everyone.
  • Mining of lithium and copper, two necessary ingredients for the batteries used in electric vehicles, can be damaging to precious ecosystems and threaten the well-being of communities near mining sites. 
  • Electric charging station locations may not be accessible or the electric battery range may be insufficient for some situations.


My upcoming Blog on this subject will quantitatively assess the effects of electric-transport policy-scenarios on the established climate-metrics of post-industrial global mean Temperature-Increase and Sea-level Rise, using the world climate simulator EnROADS.


References: 1.) EnROADS Reference Guide, 2.) U.N. webpage, 3.) Transport Sector Emissions

Published by Ramon H. Enriquez MIE&M, RME

Ramon "Mon" Hojas Enriquez is a retired business executive who now spends his available time sharing the wisdom that he gained from his graduate academic preparations and more than 35-years of hands-on industry practice here (Philippines) and abroad; as an Independent Management Consultant for various industrial-firms, and as a Professional Lecturer/ Resource Speaker of leading Higher-Ed/ Training institutions in Metro Manila. He now focuses on management consulting, education and training---for the proper management of Supply-chains, Strategy-execution, and Decision-support. His affiliations with relevant leading global industry associations keeps him informed and updated on the current and future developments in the above-mentioned fields of interests. They include, among others: The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), Project Management Institute (PMI), Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS), American Society for Quality (ASQ), Institute for Supply Management (ISM), System Dynamics Society (SDS), and Climate Interactive (CI)---and has been advocating Sustainable Development and Climate-action since 2000. Mon is a lifelong Systems Thinker and an avid micro-Blogger. His hobby includes Photography and the Graphics-arts, Singing, Guitar-playing, Songwriting; and Audio recording, mixing and mastering. When not traveling or visiting Clients, he normally spends his time at his QC-office cum studio or, at home with his Wife and dog.