Decarbonising Transport, The Global Mobility Report in Brief

Green Mobility Holger Dalkmann, Alyssa Fischer and Karl Peet

Efficiency Lukasz Wyrowski (UNECE) and Baher El-Hifnawi (World Bank)

Tracking Sustainable Mobility Muneeza Alam (World Bank) and Julie Powell (UN DESA)

Achieving Sustainable Mobility Javier Morales Sarriera (World Bank) and Lewis Fulton (University of California, Davis)

Framing Sustainable Mobility By Nancy Vandycke (World Bank) and Jari Kauppila (ITF)

Safety Soames Job (World Bank) and Hilda Gomez (CAF)

Universal Access in Urban Areas Jacob Mason (ITDP), Philip Turner (UITP) and Mircea Steriu (UITP)

The Global Mobility Report is the first-ever 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.

According to the report, the world is not on track to achieving sustainable mobility. 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 report will be updated on a continuous basis, with a new issue expected to come out every two years.

A Few Key Findings 

Universal Access

  • 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.

  • Transitioning to sustainable mobility would allow Africa to become food self-sufficient and create a regional food market worth $1 trillion by 2030.

The proposed basic access indicators are:

  • Length of public transport lines (particularly high capacity but also informal public transport if possible) per area, dedicated (and protected) bicycle lanes and sidewalk coverage (this parameter will also help to determine urban density, i.e. people/sq km)
  • Vehicle fleets per motorized transport mode (public transport and all other modes, such as taxis and shared taxis, informal/paratransit (if possible) motor cars, and motorized two-wheelers (annual update)
  • Number of public transport journeys by mode of transport (annual update)
  • Vehicle-km offered per public transport mode (annual update)
  • Number of public transport stops per area (annual update)
  • Passenger volume by mode of transport

Learn more about universal access.

Population within 500 m of frequent public transport stop

No universally agreed definition exists for “convenient” access to public transport. One way to address the methodological gap in SDG indicator 11.2.1 is by measuring this in terms of distance—one option is to measure it as the “percentage of the population within 500 m of a frequent public transport stop/station.” Like SDG indicator 11.2.1, this measure can also be subdivided into a more inclusive metric disaggregated by gender, disability status, age, income, and social status. To do so would require population data with this additional information at the local tract or neighborhood level. I

n addition to this indicator, the proposed intermediate access indicators are: • Average percent of income spent on transport per resident (affordability) • Modal share of different passenger modes in the city (public transport, walking, cycling, private ve5 Criteria for sampling can be found in the guiding document hicles and motorcycles and taxis, including informal/paratransit if possible). The aim should be to increase the use of sustainable transport modes. Consideration should also be given to applying this to freight transport (inter-modality) • Passenger km travelled by mode of public transport (annual update)—using this indicator, the average length of public transport journeys (Tier 1) can also be assessed (inter-modality) • Goods VKM travelled in the city per capita (freight). Jobs accessible within 60 minutes by transport mode in the city

The SDG indicator 11.2.1 focuses on the access to sustainable transport services and not on the access to opportunities. It is therefore desirable to complement it with additional indicators that reflect the full range of access issues and benefits that are relevant at the city level.

These include: • Passenger access—the ability of passengers to reach destinations • Freight access—the ability of goods to reach destinations • Urban planning Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, which would enable looking beyond trip origin (dwellings) and analyzing destinations—gauging the impact of city planning on access levels • Distribution of costs and benefits of different access options • How to deal with informal/paratransit contexts • Inclusivity across income—disparities in access by income and affordability level • Qualitative access—travel time, safety, security, comfort, user information, etc. Global Mobility Report 2017 | 45 Advanced access indicators like the percentage of jobs and urban services accessible within 60 minutes by each transport mode in the city can be used to measure access at a more robust level. This captures agglomeration and the improvement in job access due to better transport. It requires more detailed data on transit service frequency in addition to a full street network, data on residential population densities, and a complete picture of employment locations. It also requires a modelled network of public transport services and their operations and speeds throughout the day, preferably in a standardized format, such as the general transit feed specification (GTFS). While street grid data and population location data are readily available globally via Open Street Maps and WorldPop, employment location data is often inaccessible, even in developed countries. With a model of the city, job and service accessibility can be calculated for each census tract centroid, weighted by population, and averaged for the metropolitan region. This measure could be subdivided into a more inclusive metric disaggregated by gender, disability, age, income, and social status. This would require population data with this additional information at the local tract or neighborhood level. In addition to this indicator, the proposed advanced access indicators are: • Accessibility of the public transport network to persons with disabilities or in vulnerable situations (percent of vehicles allowing wheelchair access, percent of stations per network with step-free access, etc.) (usability) • Reduction in the percent of women who are deterred by fear of crime from getting to and from public transport (usability) • Number of jobs and city services (e.g. hospitals, schools, etc.) accessible to the average city resident by public transport, walking, and cycling (access to services). 2.2 Trends in Universal Access 2.2.1 Access for rural communities Relatively little progress has been made with respect to local roads providing access for rural communities in developing countries, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa. Local communities—who are typically the major beneficiaries of improved access—are usually highly motivated to work on the local road system, especially if this is paid work. Pilots that mobilize local communities to carry out local road maintenance and improvement have often been highly successful. However, translating this success to a large scale has foundered due to management and institutional blockages. Based on the current RAI, about 450 million people, or more than 70 percent of the total rural population, are estimated to have been left unconnected in Africa.6 Based on a new methodology using satellite imagery, the RAI shows interesting trends. Rural access varies significantly across these countries, from 17 percent in Zambia to 56 percent in Kenya. In total, it is estimated that about 34 percent of the rural population in these countries is connected, with roughly seven million people left disconnected (Figure 2.1). In contrast, in South Asia, more progress has been seen. For example, through the Government of India’s National Rural Roads Program (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana or PMGSY) started in 2000, all-weather road connectivity was provided to all habitations above a certain population threshold.7 India has one of the largest and densest road networks in the world. However, a large part of the 2.7 million km rural road network was in poor condition—until the year 2000, around 30 percent of the country’s population (about 300 million people) lacked access to all-season roads. It will be important to ensure that the Universal Access objective is informed by and linked to large and influential rural road programs such as PMGSY. 6 It is unfavorably compared with other developing countries where RAI is on average 94 percent (Gwilliam 2011). 7 The threshold is defined as a population of 500 persons and above in the plains areas of India, and 250 persons and above in hill states, the tribal areas, and the desert areas of India.


  • 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.

  • 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.

The Efficiency objective aims to ensure that transport demand is met effectively at the least possible cost. It captures two key concepts: productive efficiency (concerned with the optimal method of producing goods), and allocative efficiency (concerned with the distribution and allocation of resources in society). The scope of the efficiency objective is limited to the “macro” perspective, where efficiency refers to the optimization of resources—energy, technology, space, institutions, and regulations—to generate an efficient transport system at the regional, national and global level. It is associated with transport systems, i.e., the interconnection of transport modes to balance supply and demand. The concept of efficiency features directly and indirectly in several SDG targets, including energy efficiency (7.3), fossil fuel subsidies (12.c), food losses (12.3), resource-use efficiency (9.4), infrastructure upgrading (9.1), and policy coherence (17.14). While there are no internationally agreed upon global targets for efficiency, qualitative direction is given in some of the SDGs (e.g., SDG7.3: By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency). Transport network efficiency is becoming increasingly important as countries strive to integrate further into global value chains. Total freight transport demand is expected to triple within 35 years. Significant differences exist across countries. For example, compared with developed countries, developing countries have higher trade costs and lower levels of trade integration. Similarly, high-income OECD countries have more efficient regulations for truck licenses and domestic operations, a more comprehensive system for ensuring the quality of truck operations and a higher degree of openness to foreign competition. In addition, contracting Parties to United Nations Conventions in general have in place more efficient systems to facilitate border crossings for international transit, or have established coherent systems of international road, rail or waterways networks. Regarding fuel efficiency, while globally the average fuel economy has consistently improved from 2005 to 2015, the rate of improvement has slowed down in the most recent years. The most challenging aspect of efficiency is having the right metrics and the data to measure them. Some of the key aspects of efficiency of mobility to date remain unmeasured. These include integration across transport modes and harmonization of regulatory barriers, for example.  Learn more about transport efficiency.


On roads, the fatality risk for motorcyclists is 20 times higher than for car occupants, followed by cycling and walking, with 7 to 9 times higher risk than car travel, respectively. Bus occupants are 10 times safer than car occupants. Rail and air are the safest transport modes. Globally, 40 to 50 percent of traffic fatalities occur in urban areas.

  • Road transport claims the bulk of fatalities worldwide: it accounts for 97% of the deaths and 93% of the costs.

  • 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 Common Safety Indicators cover the following: • Significant crashes • Deaths and serious injuries • Suicides • Precursors of crashes • Economic impact of crashes • Technical aspects (level crossings by type and automatic train protection systems) • Management of safety.  Learn more about transport safety.

Green Mobility

The Green Mobility objective aims to address climate change through mitigation and adaptation, to reduce both air and noise pollution. The importance of Green Mobility is such that several international agreements relate to it directly and indirectly. Green mobility is reflected indirectly in seven SDG targets (3.4, 3.9, 7.3, 9.4, 11.6, 13.1, and 13.2), and in the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its related Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). SDG target 13.2 aims to integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning, and SDG target 13.1 aims to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries. SDG target 7.3 aims to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, which will have a direct impact on GHG emissions and other pollutants. Similarly, SDG targets 3.9 and 11.6 relate to air pollution—addressing illnesses or deaths and its environmental impacts on cities, respectively. The transport sector plays a pivotal role in the achievement of both these targets. Finally, SDG 3.4 relates to non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, all linked to air pollution, noise and lack of walking and cycling. The 2030 Agenda does not specify a quantitative target to be reached by 2030 for green mobility. However, the Paris Agreement calls for global carbon reductions in order to hold global warming to a specific target of well below 2 degrees Celsius. To help achieve this, its goal for the transport sector is to decarbonize and decrease the current level of emissions to a low-carbon scenario by mid-century.

In 2012, transport was the largest energy consuming sector in 40 percent of countries worldwide, and in the remaining countries it was the second-largest energy consuming sector. In one projection, energy related CO2 emissions are expected to grow by 40 percent between 2013 and 2040. The sector already contributes 23 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and 18 percent of all man-made emissions in the global economy. Air pollution—both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor)—is the biggest environmental risk to health. Ambient air pollution alone kills about three million people each year. Physical inactivity is estimated to be responsible for more than 3 million deaths and $50 billion in economic losses. Evidence from a few countries suggests that traffic noise has the second biggest environmental impact on health after air pollution. The Green Mobility objective proposes four different quantified targets to be achieved by 2030 and 2050, one for each of the four key dimensions— climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, air pollution, physical inactivity and noise pollution. Much of the data required to assess progress against the Green targets are readily available at a national level. The set targets are consistent with international agreements (where they exist). For example, for climate change mitigation we adopt the target set by the Paris Agreement. To meet this target, we aim to limit carbon dioxide (equivalent) emissions to 3 to 6 gigatons by 2050. For air quality, no internationally agreed quantitative target exists. We propose to substantially reduce premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution from transport-related sources by 50 percent by 2030. Similar targets exist for the other two dimensions as well.

The proposed principal indicator for tracking mitigation is global GHG emissions from the transport sector, disaggregated by purpose, income, and mode. Currently, data supporting this indicator is collected and published by the IEA and has been analyzed and published by the IPCC. Direct GHG emissions in their calculations take into account modal share, fuel choice, fuel carbon intensity, the energy intensity of vehicles, and total activity (number of journeys and journey distance).4 The proposed supporting indicators further contextualize emissions trends by disaggregating aggregate emission targets by both passenger and freight transport modes, normalizing emissions against economic value produced, and measuring uptake of alternative fuels and low emission vehicles, which are to be drawn from data with a range of sources including IEA, UITP, UNFCCC, and the World Bank.

5.1.3 Indicators to measure green mobility

Much of the data required to assess country level progress against the Green objective are readily available at a national level—in particular, greenhouse gas emission data are available from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Transport Forum (ITF), and other sources. A growing body of research tracks global and national level emissions, health and mortality statistics, noise pollution, and supportive economic indicators. Methodologies for estimating correlations between pollution, emissions, and human health are also increasingly well established, and will require little additional effort aside from tracking and recording progress specific to the transport sector.

However, the capacity to collect and aggregate transport data at the local level—particularly in developing countries—suffers from many limitations. This lack of capacity is especially relevant to noise pollution targets, for which there are not standard methods for local data collection and reporting. This challenge will need to be addressed in the coming years, as countries take action on the SDGs.

International Civil Aviation Organization. 2016. Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Setting and measuring the climate adaptation target also presents important challenges. This target will require a new methodology that can track the progress made by countries toward strengthening resilience and adaptation to inevitable climate-induced events. It can build on existing data and policy analysis, surveys, and the use of a planned Transport Vulnerability Index. Indicators may include incidents related to climate
change that affect transport systems, systems designed with resiliency features, or national level policies and assessment programs that encourage adaptation and resilience of transport infrastructure. An initial framework for measuring progress against the Green Mobility objective is outlined below. This framework lays out four ambitious targets for climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, air pollution, and noise pollution. The targets define a specific, quantifiable desired achievement against which the global transport community should measure progress using the proposed primary indicator. Each target also includes several proposed supporting indicators that can contextualize progress and present trends in actions countries are taking to achieve the more general targets.

Climate change mitigation

For climate change mitigation, the Green Mobility objective aims to reduce global transport sector GHG emissions as consistent with limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050. The desired achievement is 3-6 GT CO2 equivalent by 2050 (absolute in aggregate; specific targets to be determined for each sub-sector and income level above). The proposed principal indicator for tracking mitigation is global GHG emissions from the transport sector, disaggregated by purpose, income, and mode. Currently, data supporting this indicator is collected and published by the IEA and has been analyzed and published by the IPCC. Direct GHG emissions in their calculations take into account modal share, fuel choice, fuel carbon intensity, the energy intensity of vehicles, and total activity (number of journeys and journey distance).4

The proposed supporting indicators further contextualize emissions trends by disaggregating aggregate emission targets by both passenger and freight transport modes, normalizing emissions against economic value produced, and measuring uptake of alternative fuels and low emission vehicles, which are to be drawn from data with a range of sources including IEA, UITP, UNFCCC, and the World Bank.

Air pollution and physical activity

For air pollution and physical activity, the Green Mobility objective aims to substantially reduce premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution and physical inactivity from transport-related sources and choices. The desired achievement is: (i) 50 percent reduction by 2030 compared to 2010 baseline (relative) or (ii) fewer than 60,000 deaths globally by 2030 (absolute); and (iii) percentage of adults walking or cycling for transport increased by 20 percent by 2030. (A relative approach (A) to the target would facilitate amendments in the 2010 baseline after addressing the underestimation on the number of premature deaths attributable to transport-related sources. The baseline estimates for 2010 may be underestimated, as acknowledged by the authors of the calculations. In 2012, there were 3 million deaths worldwide from ambient air pollution (all sources). SDG 3.9.1 (ambient and household air pollution) was 6.5 million in 2012 (WHO estimates).)

The proposed principal indicator for tracking air quality is 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.6 (Global Road Safety Facility, The World Bank; Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Transport for Health: The Global Burden of Disease from Motorized Road Transport. Seattle, WA: IHME; Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2014.) Analysis will be conducted using the WHO Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) metrics and mortality data or an equivalent, and IEA data on transport sector emissions or an equivalent, to determine the causal relationship between transport sector specific emissions and deaths and DALYs caused by ambient air pollution.

The proposed supporting indicators for this target will contextualize air quality by WHO standards and disaggregate air quality data by type and source based on data from UNEP, WHO, the World Bank, and other sources. With respect to physical activity, indicators that contextualize the average daily time walking and cycling for a transport motive, the percentage of adolescents walking and cycling for transport to school, and the average time they spend on such activities, are also proposed.

Noise pollution

For noise pollution, the Green Mobility objective aims to substantially reduce global mortality and burden of disease from transport-related noise levels. The desired achievement by 2030 is to reduce by 50 percent the number of urban dwellers exposed to excessive noise levels.

The proposed principal indicator for tracking noise is the percentage of urban dwellers exposed to Lden/Lnight7 annual average noise levels from transport above 55 dB/40 dB (percent of total inhabitants). Lden corresponds to average day-evening-night noise levels, and Lnight corresponds to nighttime noise levels.  Studies will be conducted to extend WHO’s environmental burden of disease (EBD) methodology to a broader set of countries and regions, based on available and potentially expanded data, to determine causal linkages between noise levels and health indicators. The proposed supporting indicators for this target will measure average noise levels for different types of vehicles (based on EE A, WHO, and available national data), as well as average and peak noise levels in different contexts, which are the focus of the proposed principal indicator. Note that noise from trains and aircraft tends to have a much lower impact in terms of overall population exposure, but remains an important source of localized noise pollution. European Environmental Agency (2016). «TERM 2016: Transitions towards
a more sustainable mobility system» (p. 22)


5.2.1 Climate change mitigation

The transport sector presently contributes 23 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 18 percent of all man-made global economy- wide emissions.9 Global transport emissions grew at an average annual rate of 2 percent from 1990–2012, and up to now remains among the fastest growing sectors of CO2 emissions from fuel (Figure 5.1). Achieving the climate mitigation target will require optimizing the contributions from the transport sector.

Some key trends vis-à-vis greenhouse gases include:

In 2012, transport was the largest energy consuming sector in 40 percent 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”).10

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 percent from 1990 to 2012, with a negative GDP growth rate of –0.8 percent from 2008–2012, and non-Annex I countries averaged 4.8 percent with a positive GDP growth rate of 5.5 percent from 2008–2012.

Annex I countries in particular have limited transport emissions growth to well below GDP growth rates, and even non-Annex I Parties have kept transport growth below GDP growth over the 22-year period 1990–2012, albeit by a much narrower margin, demonstrating the potential to decouple economic growth from transport emissions growth.

Countries that have kept gasoline prices above US$1/liter from 2000 to 2012 show clear reductions in transport emissions growth; however, transport CO2 emissions have grown at a rapid rate in countries that have kept gasoline prices artificially low due to fuel subsidies. 

Among roughly 160 Nationally Determined Contributions representing 187 countries that submitted them as of August 1, 2016, 75 percent explicitly identify the transport sector as a mitigation source, and more than
63 percent of NDCs propose transport sector-specific mitigation measures.11

On an economy-wide scale, mitigation measures proposed in NDCs are expected to fall well short of a 2 degrees scenario, let alone the more ambitious 1.5 degrees scenario12. 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).
Active transport modes, including walking, cycling and other small-wheels modes can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases emissions, air and noise pollution, especially in urban areas.

In the case of international aviation, ICAO Member States agreed in 2010 with the sectoral goals for improving 2 percent annual fuel efficiency and keeping net CO2 emissions from 2020 at the same level (carbon neutral growth from 2020), and are currently exploring a long-term goal for the sector. The achievement of such 11 Based on Analysis by SLoCaT. In addition, 9% of NDCs include a transport sector emission reduction target, and 12% of NDCs include assessments of country-level transport mitigation potential.

12 SLoCaT (2016) Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) Offer Opportunities for Ambitious Action on Transport and Climate Change. overview_indcs/goals is monitored by Member States’ Action Plans, which are submitted to ICAO and regularly updated.

ios, and deciding how sensitive the decision is likely to be to the overall predictions. Taking these steps can result in more robust decision-making processes, which in turn can help to identify available strategies, to determine the shortcomings of these strategies, and through this process to develop adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerabilities in the transport sector. Climate change adaptation, despite being mentioned at an economy wide scope in 83 percent of the 160 NDCs submitted to date, has generally received much less attention than mitigation in NDCs. The transport sector is mentioned in general terms among climate adaptation measures in only 16 percent of NDCs, and an even smaller number of countries—4 percent— identify transport-specific adaptation strategies.

In the case of international aviation, ICAO Member States have been assessing climate change risks to airports and other infrastructure as well as impacts on air transport operations, to identify appropriate adaptation

5.2.3 Air pollution and physical activity

Air pollution—both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor)—is the biggest environmental risk to health. Ambient air pollution alone kills around 3 million people each year.14  Because the extent and severity of health damage caused by air pollution depends on the extent of human exposure, air pollution from transport is primarily an urban issue. WHO’s database on air pollution contains data on outdoor air pollution monitoring from
almost 3,000 cities in 103 countries, and is compiled from publicly available sources. Air quality is represented by annual mean concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 (PM10 is particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter, and PM2.5 particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter). Both these measures are greatly impacted by the transport sector (Figure 5.3).

In low-and middle-income countries, 98 percent of cities do not meet air quality guidelines, compared with 14 Based on WHO data.  56 percent of cities in high-income countries.15 As a result, only 10 percent 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. Diesel vehicles, mainly trucks and buses, account for most of the fine particulate matter emitted from mobile sources. Very fine particulate matter originates mainly from diesel fuels, and may penetrate deep into the lungs of the exposed population.16 These particles can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and premature death. Non-methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs) are emitted by diesel and gasoline engine vehicles. Harmful lead additives once widely used to increase the octane rating of petrol cheaply have largely been phased out worldwide.

15 The statistics are based on data for cities with more than 100 000 inhabitants. Air quality guideline comes from WHO. Source: WHO Ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease. Accessed May 12, 2017.
16 According to the Urban Air Quality Database for 2016 (WHO). Particulate matter under 10 microns in diameter is known as PM10, and that below 2.5 microns in diameter is known as PM2.5.

Other pollutants still are prevalent in transport emissions, however, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx)—which can cause harm to human health in large concentrations—and black carbon,
which has both health and climate impacts. By 2030, advances in vehicle emission controls can cut air pollution from light and heavy-duty vehicles by almost 70 percent 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.17

Regarding international aviation, since the 1980s ICAO has been developing and updating global standards for aircraft engine emissions that affect air quality, such as NOx and Particulate Matter (PM) (as contained in
Annex 16, Volume II of the Convention on International Civil Aviation),18 and such standards are implemented by Member States to minimize the impact of aircraft operations on local air quality and health.

Conservative estimates show that physical inactivity has been responsible for an estimated 3.2 million deaths19 and $54 billion economic losses20 globally (in international dollars, adjusting for purchasing power). Active transport provides health and economic gains through increases in physical activity and reductions in obesity and other diseases (e.g. cancer, heart disease, stroke). The transport sector has potential to increase physical
activity21 through active modes linked to robust public transport systems, as public transport density is found to be one of the three key environmental attributes associated with levels of physical activity.22

17 ICCT (2013), “The Impact of Stringent Fuel and Vehicle Standards on Premature Mortality and Emissions.” ICCT’s Global Transportation Health and Climate Roadmap Series. October. Page 3.
18 ICAO (2006), “Convention on International Civil Aviation.” Accessed August 24, 2017.
19 WHO.
20 Ding, D et al. The economic burden of physical inactivity: a global analysis of major non-communicable diseases. The Lancet 388.10051 (2016): 1311-1324.
21 Pratt, M et al. (2012) The implications of megatrends in information and communication technology and transportation for changes in global physical activity. The Lancet 380.9838: 282-293.
22 Sallis J, et al. (2016) Physical activity in relation to urban environments in 14 cities worldwide: a cross-sectional study. Lancet. 387(10034):2207-17.

Increases in physical activity and societal gains due to transport interventions are consistent. For instance, in São Paulo (Brazil), a shift towards a sustainable transport scenario could avert nearly 1,200 premature deaths per year only through increases in physical activity.23 Physical activity will at the same time reduce air pollution.

5.2.4 Noise pollution

In the European Union and Norway, traffic noise has the second biggest environmental impact on health after air pollution.24 Traffic noise has a variety of adverse impacts on human health. Community noise, including
traffic noise, is recognized as a serious public health issue by the WHO, which reports that Europeans lose at least one million healthy life-years annually due to disability or disease caused by traffic noise.  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 (Figure 5.4).

As a result, at least 10,000 cases of premature deaths from noise exposure occur each year, with road traffic the dominant source. Noise from trains and aircraft tends to have a much lower impact in terms of overall
population exposure, but remains an important source of localized noise pollution.25 Data suggest that noise exposure remained relatively stable between 2007 and 2012, which is likely to continue in the future with projected
transport demand. Therefore, it is unlikely that noise pollution will significantly decrease by 2020.26

23 de Sá, Thiago Hérick, et al. “Health impact modelling of different travel patterns on physical activity, air pollution and road injuries for São Paulo, Brazil.” Environment international 108 (2017): 22-31.
24 WHO (2011), “Burden of disease from environmental noise: Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe.”
25 European Environmental Agency (2016). «TERM 2016: Transitions towards a more sustainable mobility system»
26 Ibid

Conservative estimates show that the social costs of traffic noise in the European Union amount to at least €40 billion per year—0.4 percent of total GDP, with the bulk of these costs—about 90 percent— caused
by passenger cars and trucks/lorries.27 A preliminary analysis shows that each year more than 245,000 people in the European Union are affected by cardiovascular diseases that can be traced to traffic noise. About 20 percent of these people—almost 50,000—suffer a lethal heart attack, dying prematurely.

Traffic noise typically reaches harmful levels in the urban areas of many developing countries.28 Similarly, regarding airport noise across a wide income spectrum, the relative burden is higher for developing nations, and lower for developed nations.29  In the case of international aviation, the ICAO has been developing and updating global standards for aircraft noise (as contained in Annex 16, Volume I of the Convention on International Civil Aviation).30  Aircraft manufactured today are 75 percent quieter compared with the 1960s. ICAO has also established a global policy for addressing aircraft noise31, which aims at minimizing the number of people affected by
aircraft noise in the vicinity of airports, and which has been implemented by ICAO Member States.


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 decarbonization 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.

The optimization of these co-benefits is a key characteristic of the approach to environmentally sustainable transport under SuM4All. A specific type of co-benefits would be achieved through combined action on mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change. This is especially relevant when new transport infrastructure and services are being established, which as indicated will be needed in support of realizing universal urban and rural access.
The Green Mobility objective identifies key global targets and indicators for measuring progress toward this transformative paradigm. Yet, while the potential for co-benefits is great, the distance remaining to reach these targets appears greater still. Currently, the global land transport sector emits roughly 7.7 gigatons (Gt) CO2e, and business-as-usual emissions are projected to be 13–15 Gt by 2050; yet meeting Paris Agreement targets will require reducing transport emissions to 2–3 Gt in the same timeframe. In addition, the Green 27 CE Delft ((2007). «Traffic noise reduction in Europe»

28 WHO (2011), “Burden of disease from environmental noise: Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe.”
29 Qinxian He, et al (2014). “Estimation of the global impacts of aviation-related noise using an income-based approach.”

30 ICAO (2006), “Convention on International Civil Aviation.” Accessed August 24, 2017.
31 ICAO (2008). “Guidance on the Balanced Approach to Aircraft Noise Management” Source: European Environment Agency 2016. “Transitions towards a more sustainable mobility system”.

Mobility objective states a desired achievement of reducing premature death and illness from transport-related air pollution by 50 percent by 2030; yet only 10 percent of urban dwellers currently live in cities that comply with WHO air quality guidelines. Further, this objective aims to reduce by 50 percent the number of urban dwellers exposed to excessive noise levels by 2030, yet one in four Europeans were exposed to
road traffic noise levels exceeding desired thresholds in 2012, and steadily growing demand for transport makes it increasingly unlikely that noise pollution levels will significantly decrease by 2020.32 (European Environmental Agency (2016). «TERM 2016: Transitions towards a more sustainable mobility system» Finally, assessing the distance toward transport climate adaptation objectives is even more difficult in the absence of clear baselines and a well-defined Transport Climate Vulnerability Index.

The transformation of the transport sector, in support of climate and other environmental goals, needs to be largely completed by 2050 or shortly thereafter, with all modes of transport—road, rail, air, waterborne transport
for people and goods—being part of the global systemic transformation. It will involve new consumption patterns and behavioral changes, major technological innovations, the emergence of new mobility ecosystems, and the creation of new business models.

Such a change, both in scope and urgency, calls for unprecedented immediate and coordinated mobilization of all transport sector players, public and private, including policy makers, economic and corporate players, and the full participation of civil society. The transport sector alone cannot realize such ambitious targets and will need to gain the full cooperation of other sectors that interact with it, especially the energy sector and the urban development sector.

Climate change scenarios are uncertain, and the severity of climate impacts also varies greatly with the geophysical risk exposure of individual locations, their resilience, and adaptive capacity. Nevertheless, decisions on adaptation must be made today, especially with respect to long-lived transport infrastructure  assets that have the potential to lock in development patterns for many decades. Pro-active adaptation can be a low- or no-regret option, in cases where project savings accrued over the infrastructure life cycle offset the higher construction and operational costs of inaction. Decision making on adaptation, especially in the case of transport infrastructure and systems with a long lifetime, needs to consider flexible responses to a changing climate allowing for adaptive management. 

Effective, transformative action on transport needs to consider the demand for transport, which is articulated in an indicator around average trip lengths because, while technological improvements and mode shifting will be essential to achieving long term success, they will not be sufficient to achieving full decarbonization.

More efficient transport systems and less impactful fuels and engines will go a long way towards creating transport systems that are less harmful to the environment and communities. And by rethinking the way communities are designed and land use is planned, communities can reduce the load on transport systems altogether, and with large societal gains33. (Stevenson, M. et al. (2016) Land use, transport, and population health: estimating the health benefits of compact cities. Lancet, Dec 10;388(10062):2925-2935.)

Beyond this exists the challenge of climate change adaptation, which is an essential issue to tackle, and which will become increasingly relevant over the coming decades. A green mobility system must be a sustainable mobility system, and a mobility system can only be sustainable if it is able to withstand extreme weather events and changes to the surrounding environment. Also, sustainable passenger and freight transport systems must adapt to climate change to maintain reliability and increase market share, in order to achieve their full mitigation potential.

Sims R., R. Schaeffer,F. Creutzig, X. Cruz-Núñez, M. D’Agosto, D. Dimitriu, M.J. Figueroa Meza,L.Fulton, S. Kobayashi, O.Lah, A. McKinnon, P. Newman, M. Ouyang, J.J. Schauer, D. Sperling, and G.Tiwari, 2014:Transport. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E.Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann,J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C.von Stechow, T.Zwickel and J.C. Minx(eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter8.pdf

The transport sector contributes 23% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and 18% of all man-made emissions.

The increase in cycling and e-bike use would save the world a cumulative $24 trillion between 2015 and 2050.

Learn more about green mobility.

Achieving Sustainable Mobility: Why policy-makers should pursue the four goals at the same time

Javier Morales Sarriera (The World Bank) and Lewis Fulton (University of California, Davis)


The Global Mobility Report frames the transport agenda around four global goals: universal access, efficiency, safety and green. Unless those four goals are pursued simultaneously, mobility will not be sustainable for current and future generations. For example, policy decisions must not prioritize universal access interventions without considering the implications they may have on efficiency, safety, and green. Deviating from any of the goals will compromise the achievement of sustainable mobility.

At stake is the fact that none of these goals are independent, but they are all interconnected. In many cases, there are synergies among pairs of goals, or even across all four. Synergies occur when projects and policies help achieve more than one goal at a time. But in other cases, advancing the agenda on one goal may hinder another. Therefore, synergies should be captured and apparent trade-offs should be managed. By acknowledging these interconnections and managing them appropriately, mobility will be able to generate more benefits for society, strengthening its role as a driver of social inclusion and economic competitiveness, with the least impact on safety and the environment.

This note provides examples of the synergies and trade-offs a policy-maker should consider and manage.

Synergies across the four goals

Reducing speeds can help achieve all four goals: it improves fuel efficiency for light and especially heavy vehicles, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases universal access by improving travel conditions for pedestrians, bicycles, and slower moving vehicles, and reduces crash fatalities and injuries. Studies estimate that each 1 percent decrease in speed generates a 4 percent decrease in deaths2, yet many countries allow higher than ideal vehicle speeds, because some key costs—crashes, emissions, noise, etc.—are not considered.

Multimodal freight transport systems that operate high load-factors and capture the economies of scale of rail and waterborne freight, may also unlock multiple synergies, providing for green mobility by lowering emissions per ton-kilometer, enhancing efficiency
in terms of energy consumed, and improving
safety via the safer operation of rail and water freight
movement than road freight transport.
Universal access and green mobility
Universal access may mean more travelers and more
trips, but when accomplished primarily by public or
active modes of transport it can lead to emission
reductions and lower air and noise pollution. The key
to unlocking this synergy is to induce a modal shift
away from less efficient modes, such as single-occupant
Road expansion and rehabilitation, on the contrary,
may improve universal access, but it may increase
emissions by generating sprawl and inducing travel.
Universal access and efficiency
In rural areas, ensuring universal access by providing
all-weather roads also contributes to increasing economic
competitiveness. With lower freight transport
costs, local producers can better connect to national
and global markets.
Universal access can hinder system efficiency: for
example, when public transport service is provided
to low-density or low-demand areas, or where mobility
can be provided at a lower cost through shared or
private modes of transport.
Universal access and safety
Integrated street systems that include sidewalks
for pedestrians can increase safety and encourage
travelers to walk, enhancing access to those with
no other means of mobility. In addition, slow traffic
speeds reduce serious crashes and allow for safer
walking and cycling.
Poorly designed investments that strengthen access
for motorized traffic—but create conflicts between
motorized and active modes—may result in more fatalities
and injuries and restrict access for those who
cannot afford motorized transport.
Efficiency and safety
In passenger transport, this synergy can be unlocked
with a shift away from private automobiles and
toward public transport. Studies suggest that road
fatality rates may on average decrease by 15% when
the mode share of public transport doubles.3
A trade-off between efficiency and safety involves
motorcycles, which are efficient in the use of road
space and cause less impact than automobiles on
traffic congestion. However, studies show that motorcycles
impose around 20 times the fatality rate of
Efficiency and green mobility
Reducing vehicle traffic and shifting travel to loweremission
modes improves resource efficiency and
cuts greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
Regarding freight transport modes, the external air
pollution and greenhouse gas emission cost of truck
transport are estimated to be about 7 times higher
per ton-km than for rail transport.5
The source of vehicle power can also have a major
impact on efficiency and green, especially when
comparing internal combustion engine automobiles
to electric cars running on electricity from renewable
Other interventions that achieve efficiency and green
mobility include congestion charging, which reduces
inefficient vehicle travel, or digital platforms that
may help reduce empty truck backhauls.
Safety and green mobility
Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure are greenfriendly
and, if well designed, also improve safety as
part of a comprehensive effort to make traffic calmer.
Policies that promote vehicle fleet renewal—particularly
in developing countries with sizeable markets
for imported secondhand vehicles—can improve
safety and reduce emissions because of more rigorous
emission and safety standards for newer vehicles.

Stimpson, J. P., Wilson, F. A., Araz, O. M., and Pagan, J. A. 2014. Share of Mass Transit Miles Traveled and Reduced Motor Vehicle Fatalities
in Major Cities of the United States. Journal of Urban Health, 91(6), 1136–1143.
4 European Transport Safety Council 2003. Transport Safety Performance in the EU: A Statistical Overview.
5 Forkenbrock, D. J. 2001. Comparison of External Costs of Rail and Truck Freight Transportation. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and
Practice, 35(4), 321–337.

Stimpson, J. P., Wilson, F. A., Araz, O. M., and Pagan, J. A. 2014. Share of Mass Transit Miles Traveled and Reduced Motor Vehicle Fatalities in Major Cities of the United States. Journal of Urban Health, 91(6), 1136–1143.
Nilsson, G. 2004. Traffic Safety Dimension and the Power Model to describe the Effect of Speed on Safety, Lund Institute of Technology, Sweden.

Decarbonising Transport at the 2017 Summit: see more information

The objective:  A commonly-acceptable pathway to achieve zero transport emissions by around 2050. 

  • COP21 has created a political pathway with 5-year reviews for national decarbonisation commitments, starting in 2020.
  • Transport, representing 23% of all energy-related emissions, now has an opportunity to play a leading rolein climate change mitigation.

A quantitative and inclusive project.  ITF is developing a suite of modelling tools to navigate this pathway.

  • Data-driven computer modelling over all transport modes.
  • Rigorous and coherent analysis of policies and outcomes, considering exogenous factors and their impacts.
  • Simulation of technological evolution, alternative policy paths and outcomes.
  • Collaboration and mutual learning among stakeholders.
  • Inclusive dialogue and engagement with multiple partner organisations.

Why ITF?

  • Best-in-class modelling tools: the project will integrate and expand ITF’s groundbreaking quantitative modelling work on a global and urban scale.
  • Best platform for dialogue:
    • Only intergovernmental organisation dealing with all transport modes.
    • Wide geographic diversity and CO2 emissions profile among members.
    • Established Corporate Partnership Board: 28 leading companies.
    • Excellent relations with multilateral institutions.

Partner Benefits

  • Active participation in defining transport’s path to carbon neutrality.
  • Feedback on how an organisation’s plans and targets are contributing to decarbonising transport, in relation to other moving factors.
  • The big picture: participate in discussions with other key stakeholders and experts on all decarbonisation issues.
  • Priority access to modelling results and insights.
  • Visibility for companies’ CSR and climate change mitigation strategies.

Go to the information brochure

Contact request form

The Decarbonising Project was officially launched at the ITF’s 2016 Summit on “Green and Inclusive Transport” in the presence of 47 partners and supporting organisations, on 19 May 2016.
See Press Release
See photos

decarbonising transport project launch family photo

October 19, 2017—The transport sector is not on track towards achieving sustainable mobility, according to the Global Mobility Report launched today.

The Global Mobility Report is the first ever assessment of the transport sector. It was produced by the Sustainable Mobility for All initiative (SuM4All)—a worldwide consortium of over 50 leading organizations in the transport sector.

The Global Mobility Report covers all transport modes. It tracks progress towards sustainable mobility around the world in four areas:

  • Universal Access: about 450 million people in Africa— or more than 70% of its total rural population—are estimated to have been left unconnected to transport.
  • Efficiency: 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%.
  • Safety: 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.
  • Green mobility: transport emits 23% of all energy-related greenhouse gases; its CO2 emissions could grow by 40% by 2040.

“The world is off track to achieving sustainable mobility. The growing demand for moving people and goods is increasingly met at the expense of future generations,” said José Luis Irigoyen, Senior Director of the Transport & ICT Global Practice at the World Bank. “It is urgent to reverse this trend. The costs for society of increased mobility in terms of congestion, accidents, inefficiencies and pollution are simply too high.”

“Sustainable mobility is crucial for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs,” said a representative of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). “It enables access to services and opportunities through sustainable transport, thus advancing economic and social development to benefit today’s and future generations.”

“The Global Mobility Report is the product of a true collective effort,” said Jari Kauppila, Head of Statistics and Modelling of the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “The breadth of knowledge assembled under the umbrella of the Sustainable Mobility for All initiative is what makes this comprehensive assessment of the transport sector possible and also unique.”

“The Global Mobility Report, with proposed targets on accessibility, safety, efficiency and green transport, will accelerate the transition to sustainable transport both in the developing and developed world,” said Cornie Huizenga, Secretary General of The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT).

“In Latin America, the high rates of urbanization require mobility solutions that provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all,” said Luis Carranza Ugarte, President of Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina (CAF).

“Good public transport has a huge impact on urban economies. It expands labour markets, offers more opportunities and better accessibility. The SUM4ALL initiative will be essential to realising this,” said Alain Flausch, Secretary General of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

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.

“The Consortium has made good progress on the development of a draft tracking framework and the first Global Mobility Report,” said Elizabeth Jones, Senior Transport Adviser, UK’s Department for International Development.

Download the report for free at

This press release is jointly published on behalf of the Sum4All consortium by:

  • The World Bank Group
  • United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)
  • International Transport Forum (ITF)
  • UK Department for International Development (DFID)
  • International Association of Public Transport (UITP)
  • Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
  • Development Bank of Latin America (CAF)
  • Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT)
  • World Resources Institute (WRI)
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Sustainable Mobility for All is a global partnership acting collectively to transform transport and meet the mobility expectations of tomorrow in a sustainable way. SuM4All includes multilateral development banks, bilateral donor agencies, United Nations departments, agencies, programs and regional commissions, intergovernmental organizations, global civil society organizations, private sector organizations, and academic institutions.

Media contacts:

World Bank

Yohan Senarath

+1 202 473 2624

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

Matthias Klettermayer

+1 212 963 8306

International Transport Forum (ITF)

Hans Michael Kloth

+33 (0)1 45 24 95 96

International Association for Public Transport (UITP)

Cynthia Bonsignore

+32 2 661 31 82

Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)

Jemilah Magnusson

+1 646 380 2357 

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Bentley Jenson

+41 22 917 23 56

Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina (CAF)

Robert Valls

+57 1 743 7368

Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT)

Yuxin Wang

+86 21 5291 9855

World Resource Institute (WRI)

Dario Hidalgo

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Agustín Cáceres


+1 202 623 2264