Skip to main content
Research Department Working Papers

Global Transportation Decarbonization

No. 2309
David Rapson and Erich Muehlegger

Abstract: A number of policy proposals call for replacing fossil fuels in the name of decarbonization, but these fuels will be difficult to replace due to their as-yet unrivaled bundle of attributes: abundance, ubiquity, energy density, transportability and cost. There is a growing commitment to electrification as the dominant decarbonization pathway for transportation. While deep electrification is promising for road vehicles in wealthy countries, it will face steep obstacles. In other sectors and in the developing world, it’s not even in pole position. Global transportation decarbonization will require decoupling emissions from economic growth, and decoupling emissions from growth will require not only new technologies, but cooperation in governance. The menu of policy options is replete with tradeoffs, particularly as the primacy of energy security and reliability (over emissions abatement) has once again been demonstrated in Europe and elsewhere.


Read paper | See all Working Papers