A quarter of the world's CO₂ emissions are due to the combustion of energy in transport. This sector, which is almost entirely dependent on oil–road, air, sea, river or rail–for both passengers and goods, therefore represents a central issue in the success of the transition.
The transformation seems to be fully underway in the most developed markets, with, for example, a ban on the sale of light internal combustion vehicles in Europe in 2035, similar provisions in California and a significant advance in China in the marketing of electric vehicles. But while electrification has the greatest potential for mass adoption among the technological options that are set to develop, it is a whole range of levers that will have to be combined to achieve greater sustainability, such as demand management (through greater use of telecommunications, for example, or shorter journeys), better use of means of transport (car-sharing), modal shift, efficiency and sufficiency in means of transport (in terms of materials and energy), a rethink of urban planning and development, overhaul of urban planning and development plans, etc.
At the same time, the decarbonisation of means of transport, and first and foremost their electrification, will result in numerous co-benefits, with a significant improvement in air quality, particularly in the largest megalopolises, for example in India, where large cities are suffocating. However, this transition will undoubtedly call into question relations between OECD countries and countries of the Global South, particularly with regard to the extraction and refining of the raw materials (copper, nickel and cobalt) needed for batteries. It is therefore necessary to establish a fair framework for collaboration within these value chains, which are set to expand.
IDDRI is analysing the issue of mobility from a cross-sectional perspective, with three main areas of work:
- Through its Deep Decarbonization Pathways network, the Institute aims to understand the different patterns of mobility between major intercontinental regions (e.g. trade by sea), or in major emerging countries (particularly freight or passenger transport), and to provide dedicated transition tools and methods, in conjunction with the players involved.
- At French and European levels, IDDRI has contributed to the foundation of a think tank, the Mobility in Transition Institute (IMT), which is working on the conditions for implementing the transition, focusing on fiscal, industrial (circular economy and/or decarbonisation of upstream chains), social (accessibility and acceptability) and regulatory issues, among others.
- IDDRI is also working on the energy sector: as transport uses large quantities of energy, its impact in the future will be largely correlated with the energy sector's ability to decarbonise and create infrastructures that are stronger, more adaptable and more resilient to the consequences of climate change.
All of these issues–technological, social, behavioural and political–require instrumentation to monitor the dynamics at work, and whether or not the scenarios set by the public authorities are being achieved. To objectify this state of progress, IMT and IDDRI are taking the lead on these issues by organising a high-level dialogue between stakeholders, and by producing an independent analysis of the issues and solutions within this sector.