Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies


How ITF’s decarbonising transport models are helping Argentina, Azerbaijan, India, and Morocco find a path towards economic growth without driving up transport CO2 emissions.

Can emerging economies overcome the current dilemma of driving up transport CO2 emissions while lifting their populations out of poverty through economic development? If so, how?

Squaring this circle and finding a pathway to sustainable mobility is critical for countries facing rapid growth in transport demand. It is equally critical for the rest of the world, as greenhouse gas emissions from rapidly expanding economies will significantly impact global emission levels and, hence, climate.

The Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE) project addresses this critical challenge head-on. It is a collaboration between the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the Wuppertal Institute (WI), funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Country-specific assessment

The project works with Argentina, Azerbaijan, India, and Morocco to help them build sustainable transport systems. For each of these countries, the project develops a tailor-made assessment framework along with mitigation strategies. It guides the participating governments in establishing pathways to reducing transport CO2 emissions that meet countries’ pledges under the Paris Agreement and, at the same time, enables them to balance environmental sustainability with development effectively.

Collaboratively crafted Scenarios

A whole range of policy scenarios the DTEE project developed since its launch in 2019 allow fine-tuned assessments of how different policy measures will affect transport demand and CO2 emissions until 2050 in the four study countries and under different assumptions, from a business-as-usual approach to highly ambitious transport decarbonisation initiatives.

The scenarios were crafted jointly with the transport ministries, agencies, and local government bodies. Scenario-building workshops and webinars were held to foster knowledge exchange among stakeholders and enrich the information fed into the scenarios.

Tailor-made modelling tools

Projections for future transport demand and the related emissions for the collaboratively identified scenario settings were generated with custom-made modelling tools for each country, building on ITF’s vast in-house modelling work and adhering to best practices in transport modelling. In-person events, fact-finding missions, online meetings with key stakeholders, and extensive data collection efforts all fed into the development of the models.

The modelling tool’s focus varied depending on each country’s requirements. For instance, Argentina’s model prioritised freight transport, while Azerbaijan’s models covered all the transport sub-sectors in a balanced way.

Ambitious climate policies

The insights gleaned from the modelling exercises are highly significant for policy decisions in all four countries. They show that substantial reductions in annual transport CO2 emissions are only achievable with much more ambitious climate policies, reflected in the “Climate Ambition Scenario”: 

Bar chart Scenario results
Transport CO2 in Azerbaijan in 2015, 2030 and 2050 by scenario and sector.

Current policies are inadequate for managing transport sector emissions, and the modelling results make it clear. This finding underscores the pressing need for enhanced policy measures to keep in check the projected increase in transport CO2 to 2050 under existing policies.

In Azerbaijan, for example, the surge in transport emissions is driven by rising demand in both passenger and freight transport sectors, leading to a stark projection: without additional policy interventions, annual transport CO2 emissions could increase by 50% by 2050. Even with the policies already in place, emissions are expected to rise by 25%.

Empowering Transport Decision-Makers

An important aspect of the DTEE work is to empower policy makers and planners in the participating countries. The models are transferred to Argentina, Azerbaijan, India and Morocco for their own continued use - of course, with hand-over sessions and capacity training to equip transport authorities and decision-makers with the necessary skills to use the tools and identify effective transport policies.

The training sessions are complemented by regional policy dialogues facilitated by the ITF. These aim to advance the transport decarbonisation agenda in the respective region and to provide opportunities for knowledge exchange and deepening collaboration.

They also involve policymakers and stakeholders from neighbouring regions. This allows to broaden the discussions and helps to align with international commitments under the UNFCCC processes. Not least, sharing lessons from the projects serves to inform future initiatives that can underpin policies that console economic developments with sustainable development.

The link has been copied to the clipboard


IKI Office
Zukunft – Umwelt – Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH
Stresemannstraße 69-71

10963 Berlin