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Transport energy use and greenhouse gases in urban passenger transport systems: A study of 84 global cities

Kenworthy, J.R. (2003) Transport energy use and greenhouse gases in urban passenger transport systems: A study of 84 global cities. In: International Sustainability Conference, 17 - 19 September, Fremantle, Western Australia



The transport sector will be very hard hit by the “big rollover” in world oil production due to occur within the next 10 years. Urban transport in particular is almost entirely dependent upon oil, and will take many years to shift to other energy sources. Most cities will be particularly vulnerable during the transition to a post-petroleum world. Likewise, the growing focus on global warming and greenhouse issues places additional pressure on urban transport to reduce its CO2 output. This paper provides a review of transport, urban form, energy use and CO2 emissions patterns in an international sample of 84 cities in the USA, Australia, Canada, Western Europe, high income Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, low income Asia, Latin America and China. This overview concentrates on factors such as urban density, transport infrastructure and car, public transport and non-motorised mode use, which help us to better understand the different levels of per capita passenger transport energy use and CO2 emissions in different cities. Patterns of energy consumption, modal energy efficiency and CO2 emissions in private and public transport in the different groups of cities are examined. Automobile cities such as those in the USA use extraordinary quantities of energy in urban transport. An average US urban dweller uses about 24 times more energy annually in private transport as a Chinese urban resident. Public transport energy use per capita represents a fraction of that used in private transport in all cities, with rail being the most energy-efficient mode. CO2 emissions from passenger transport follow a similar pattern. For example, Atlanta produces105 times more CO2 per capita than Ho Chi Minh City. Some policy recommendations are outlined to reduce urban passenger transport energy use and greenhouse gases and provide other positive outcomes in terms of sustainability and livability in cities.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
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