Greenhouse gas emissions have increased the most in the transport sector: + 120% between 1970 and 2004. There are several reasons for this. The expansion of the global market has increased the exchanges of goods and people. Part of the population has become richer – especially in emerging countries. This has made it possible for more people to buy a motorized vehicle. Mass tourism is constantly increasing international demand. Urban sprawl is increasing daily transport…
However, 95% of vehicles circulating in the world are powered by oil. As its combustion releases a lot of CO2, transport is responsible for a large part of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these emissions are caused by human transport and almost half is caused by cars.
Technological progress may have made it possible to improve the energy efficiency of transport but not as much as it could have. Thus, car motors are usually more efficient than they were a few decades ago, but this improvement is neutralized by the increase in average size and number of cars. As the number of journeys has increased, GEG emissions are currently increasing by 2% a year on average.
All means of transport are not equal. Some emit more greenhouse gas than others. Thus, to go from Paris to Marseille, a journey of about 750 km, a person emits about 6 kg of CO2 by rail compared to 35 kg by car and 50 kg by plane. And almost none by bicycle – but this would definitely take much longer. In our speed-based society, the fastest means of transport are deemed best even though they use more energy. Those who can afford to therefore go from bicycles to motorcycles and from cars to planes. Aerial passenger transport thus increases by 5% a year: this is more than any other type of transport.