The regional scenarios document the possible impacts on emissions and air quality initiated by potential changes to policies on transportation, technology, fuel, and mobility systems during the upcoming decades. The intention of these scenarios is to show stakeholders that the implementation of sustainable policies plays a critical role in ensuring projected emissions do not become a reality (WEC, 2011).

The objective of this activity is to provide a source of information on current emissions projections and present scenarios for sustainable urban transport and climate change in Latin America and their potential impacts. These initially focus on Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

4. Car Ownership and Gasoline Vehicles VKT

The graph below shows how vehicle ownership has rapidly increased in Mexico and how this rise is projected to continue into the future. An increase in vehicle ownership naturally results in an increase in vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT). The increases are seen to coincide with the growth in population and income per capita. However, transit-oriented development, sustainable urban planning, and energy efficiency programs can all significantly contribute to limiting this increase in vehicle ownership and increase Mexico’s economic and energy efficiency whilst also reducing emissions.

Mexican Car ownership rates (cars/1,000 people)

Source: Gately, 2009 and World Energy Council, 2011.


In 2011, the World Energy Council released a report outlining the impacts of various policies on development and energy use. Their report included two predictive models, “tollway” and “freeway.” The latter assumes business-as-usual policies including continued growth in both economic activity and population resulting in large increases in urbanization and little intervention to promote sustainable development. “Tollway” shows the impacts of a sustainable development policy that emphasizes energy efficiency and other proven low emissions policy options. As this chart shows, sustainable growth policy can dramatically lower dependence on automobiles.

Without policies such as these, Mexico will rely on increasing oil reserves use and will need to put more money into maintaining and building roads that will just fill up with more cars. Auto-dependence has real costs, raising the cost of living and working.

Mexican Gasoline vehicles VKT

Source: World Energy Council, 2011.