It is estimated that transportation is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and 24% of the CO2 associated with burning fossil fuels. The challenges posed by climate change have thus added to the urgency of developing low-carbon transportation. There are three broad strategic goals for achieving this end. The first consists of avoiding demand by transportation. The second seeks to shift transportation towards cleaner modes, especially from private automobiles to walking, bicycles and public transit. The third calls for more efficient technologies.
To help fill this gap and further the progress being made toward low-carbon transportation systems in Latin America, this document provides a rationale for promoting the development of low-carbon transportation infrastructures. Taking a broad view of transportation infrastructure that encompasses not only its fixed, physical components but also what it is used for, for the purposes of this document a low-carbon transportation infrastructure is one that minimizes the carbon emissions associated with providing and operating that infrastructure. With these goals in mind, this document is divided into five sections including this introduction. To contextualize the need to focus on the relevance of low-carbon transportation infrastructures, the following section provides background on the current demands for moving towards a low-carbon economy and on how to move towards low-carbon transportation. The next section provides a specific definition of a low-carbon transportation infrastructure, lists emission sources associated with it and summarizes a methodology for calculating its life-cycle emissions. The last section uses hypothetical examples to show how to calculate the life-cycle emissions of two infrastructure options for a specific transportation service: a road and a railway. The document ends with some broad recommendations.
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