20 facts about the climate footprint of mobility

A car in the street

Mobility. It’s how we get people (and things) from A to B, but it’s not usually something we think about that much. It’s just, kinda something we do on, well, autopilot.

We put on our curiosity hat on and went out to discover 20 facts about mobility and their environmental impact.

1: In 2018, a total of 24% of global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion came from transportation. That’s ¼ of all global emissions.

2: Walking is, unsurprisingly, the best thing you can do for the climate. When you walk a kilometer, you emit 0 grams of CO2. In comparison, biking the same distance has a footprint of 8 grams of CO2 (that’s 16 grams if you use an e-bike). A bus is around 45 grams of CO2, while a high-speed train is 50 grams. Moving over to planes now. Norwegian, considered as one of the most fuel-efficient airlines, reported 70 grams of CO2 per passenger kilometer in 2019. When looking at cars, electric cars come in at 92 grams of CO2 per kilometer traveled, while gasoline cars pull a whoomphing 208 grams of CO2!

3: Emissions from the transportation (mobility) sector can be divided into passenger travel, which is responsible for 60% of CO2 emissions, and freight (goods) accounting for 40%.

4: Trains, on a global scale, emit very little CO2, representing 1.2% of the emissions from the transportation sector (yes, 1.2% of 24% of global emissions). Trains are pretty awesome.

5: Sleeper trains are having a comeback! Yep, it’s becoming increasingly easy to sleep your way to adventure. Among the European countries that are planning to embrace sleeper trains are Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia.

6: The global carsharing market is expected to grow from over 7 million members to an incredible 36 million by the end of 2025

7: More and more companies are choosing electric vehicles for their car fleet.

8: …Which is a sensible choice, as many countries have tax benefits to switching their car fleet to electric.

9: In 2019, there were 4.8 million electric vehicles in the world.

10: That’s expected to rise to an estimated 120 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. By 2040, it’s expected that 57% of all car sales will be electric.

11: Biking is on the rise. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic creating a rise in bicycling, biking has been rising steadily. Many cities are copying cycling heavyweights like Amsterdam and Copenhagen and investing in bicycle-friendly infrastructure. In fact, 62 % of Copenhagen locals commute by bike every day, and the Capital is considered one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities.

12: And there's good reason to pedal power. A 2015 study concluded that a 20% increase in cycling worldwide could “cut carbon dioxide emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 % within the next 30 years.”

13: Cargo bikes were invented in the UK. The cargo bike was first mentioned in 1877, when a man named James Starley, living in the UK, designed three carriers (cargo bikes) for transportation of people and goods.

14: Cargo bikes could take the load: According to research commissioned by the European Union, 25% of all goods and 50% of all light deliveries in urban areas could be done by cargo bikes.

15: Rideshares on the rise. In 2019, Uber and Lyft had more than 127 million users per month, just in the United States. While 2020 has seen a dip in the number of rideshares, the general trend is expected to continue.

16: More and more cities are going car-free. Oslo, Paris, and Madrid are just some of the cities that are redesigning themselves to create a car-free future.

17: Smart-city investments in Singapore have made its traffic some of the smoothest in the world. Thanks to its Intelligent Transport System, Singapore is one of the least congested metropolises in the world. The average car speed on main roads is 27 km/h (17 miles/h), compared to an average speed of 16 km/h in London, 11 km/h in Tokyo, and a snail pace of 5 km/h in Jakarta. Congestion is a major source of air pollution, so easing the pressure on the roads makes a large difference.

18: In 2019, Americans took 9.9 billion trips on public transportation, taking 34 million trips each weekday. In the US alone, public transportation employs more than 436,000 people.

19: Public transportation saves the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually. That’s as much as running 8,058 wind turbines for an entire year.

20: Many countries are moving towards electrically powered busses, including India, China, the Netherlands, and the UK. Today, there are about 500,000 electric buses operating globally. This is expected to grow to over 67% of the global bus fleet in 2040.


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