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Transport sector's contribution to climate protection by 2050

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Deployment planning/Financing/Market roll-out


Background & Policy context

The transport sector is one of the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions. In Germany, the transport sector caused an amount of 192 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2010. About 85% of it was contributed by road transport.

Accordingly, the transport sector is responsible for one fifth of the overall greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. And forecasts indicate that the impact of the transport sector will continue to grow until 2050.


The project thus aims at developing an ambitious, sector specific climate protection goal until the year 2050 for the transport sector.

Departing from a Business-as-usual scenario of economic, transport and technology development, the study is about to identify various options for action to lower greenhouse gas emissions. It is the aim to describe the possible contribution of transportation to the policy objectives for climate protection.


To formulate a climate protection goal, a detailed analysis regarding the future development of greenhouse gas emissions until 2050 is carried out. The prognosis contains all relevant transport modes (road, rail, air and water such as freight and passenger transport) and takes the years 2020, 2030 and 2040 under consideration as well.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety; BMUB
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)
Funding Source
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)


Transport is not only an indispensable part of our daily lives, but also one of the major sources of greenhouse gases in Germany. What can be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the short- and mid-term? How can transport become greenhouse gas-neutral in the long term? Are Germany’s climate targets in the transport sector sufficiently ambitious?

This paper answers these questions. It describes what needs to be done in the coming years to reconcile developments in the transport sector with the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement and the German government’s Climate Action Plan 2050. It suggests measures that can help to achieve a quick and significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring that the climate targets agreed upon in Paris could be met by Germany’s transport sector.

The Paris Agreement aims at limiting the rise of the earth’s average temperature to well below 2°C. In the long term, only net zero emissions will be permitted. The implementation of the agreement poses enormous challenges for all signatory states, as the global carbon budget is extremely limited if the temperature target of 2°C is to be reached. Germany must reduce a major proportion of its emissions even before 2030. However, the immediate need for action is not adequately reflected in the targets set in the German Climate Action Plan or in the European framework for climate and energy policy. In other words – Germany and the EU must significantly increase their efforts, and transport plays a part in it.

When assessing the scenarios in the UBA-study Klimaschutzbeitrag des Verkehrs bis 2050 (German abbr. KSBV; Climate Change Mitigation in Transport until 2050) [UBA, 2016a] it becomes clear that the most ambitious Climate Protection Scenario “E+” contains a broad array of policy measures that would come close to the transport target for 2030. However, looking at a realistic carbon budget that would meet the 2°C target, transport would still be responsible for almost 40% of all emissions across sectors. This would not leave enough leeway for other sectors to introduce realistic mitigation poli-cies. Without rapid action in the transport sector, it will be almost impossible to adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement. This means that existing instruments must be enforced more strictly and new in-struments must be introduced. To meet the temperature target of the Paris Agreement, more ambi-tious policies must be implemented in the transport sector, such as:

  • Stricter efficiency requirements for internal combustion engines, introduced by signifi-cantly stricter fleet target values for 2025 and 2030 as well as realistic test cycles;
  • Electrification of road vehicles by introducing a quota for electric vehicles in order to reach between 6 and 12 million electric vehicles on German roads;
  • Developing a sustainable transport infrastructure with clear price signals for all users: Flexible distance-based road charging creates incentives for a climate-friendly use of transport, while an ecomobility system that attracts more users depends on an effective infra-structure, especially for railways and bicycles.
  • Phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies: This would free money that could be used for funding a transformation in the transport and energy sectors.

It is paramount when implementing the policy measures to focus on a rapid and comprehensive miti-gation effect. We would like to emphasize that although the climate targets of the Paris Agreement are very ambitious, the instruments to achieve them are available, but they must be implemented im-mediately and consistently.

Findings of the study are published in detail by a final report (German and English language available) which is available online via the Federal Environment Agency (UBA):


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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