Improving the sustainability of passenger and freight transport

Getting transportation on track with the IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario requires implementing a broad set of policies, summed up as "Avoid, Shift, Improve". The IEA helps further this transition by analysing technologies and transport systems that can be developed and adopted by countries to reduce dependence on oil and emissions of greenhouse gases. This work also enables reductions in air pollution, road fatalities and congestion, while improving passenger and freight transport access.

Key findings

Evolution of road passenger transport activity in selected countries in early 2020


Mobility fell by an unprecedented amount in the first half of 2020

As a consequence of global lockdown measures due to the Covid-19 crisis, mobility – 57% of global oil demand – declined at an unprecedented scale in early 2020. Road transport in regions with lockdowns in place dropped between 50% and 75%, with global average road transport activity almost falling to 50% of the 2019 level by the end of March 2020.

Transport sector CO2 emissions by mode in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030


Emissions from transport continue to rise

Transportation is responsible for almost one quarter of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. Road vehicles – cars, trucks, buses and two- and three-wheelers – account for nearly three-quarters of transport CO2 emissions. Emissions from aviation and shipping continue to rise, indicating that these hard-to-abate subsectors need more international action.

Electric car deployment in selected countries, 2013-2018


Electric vehicles have been growing around the world

Electric car deployment has been growing rapidly over the past ten years, with the global stock of electric passenger cars passing 5 million in 2018, an increase of 63% from the previous year. Around 45% of electric cars on the road in 2018 were in China – a total of 2.3 million – compared to 39% in 2017. In comparison, Europe accounted for 24% of the global fleet, and the United States 22%.