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.

3. Transport, Car Ownership and VKT

The mobility and transport of goods and people is critical for economic development and social cohesion. At the same time, transport is currently heavily dependent upon oil reserves, is the fastest growing source of global carbon emissions, and is responsible for a range of other social and environmental challenges including local air pollution, noise, road congestion and accidents.

By 2035, the transportation sector is expected to account for close to 90% of world liquids fuel consumption, driven by economic growth and the associated transportation needs, and by the projected demand for personal automobiles, especially in non-OECD countries (WEC, 2011).  As discussed in the World Bank Low Carbon Study, Brazil‘s transport sector has a lower carbon intensity compared to that of most other countries because of its widespread use of ethanol as a fuel for vehicles. Still, the transport sector accounts for more than half of Brazil‘s total fossil-fuel consumption with emissions rapidly growing, especially in urban areas, due to increased motorization and congestion. In 2008, the transport sector accounted for about half of the country‘s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Fossil Fuel Consumption by Sector



Looking forward car ownership rates are expected to more than double by 2030 as demonstrated in the graph below (Gately, 2009).  Effective policy options, however, could result in significantly more manageable growth.  The World Energy Council (WEC 2010) has predicted that Brazil, through an aggressive set of efficiency policies (termed the Tollway model and discussed below), could keep this motorization rate to a more modest 60-70% growth by 2030.

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


(Source:  Gately, 2009 and World Energy Council, 2010)


By encouraging public transit, developing new emissions rules, and ensuring cities are pedestrian-friendly, Brazil could reduce current trends.  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.

Brazilian Gasoline vehicles VKT

Source:  World Energy Council, 2010.