Skip to Main Navigation

Transport Decarbonization Investment series (TDI)

(Re)watch our COP26 event: Climate-Smart Mobility: Where to Invest


Domestic and international transport currently account for about 20% of global GHG emissions. If no action is taken, transport emissions will continue to increase rapidly, with the latest estimates projecting a rise of as much as 60% by 2050. In that context, the decarbonization of the transport sector has become an urgent priority, and will be instrumental in winning the global race against climate change.

However, by most measures, action is well off-track. While a growing number of green mobility innovations are emerging, market uptake has been slow. Transport stakeholders need targeted and more effective interventions to accelerate the transformation of the sector and scale up investment in climate-smart mobility.

To support this transition, the World Bank, the government of the Netherlands, and the World Resources Institute have jointly developed a new series of publications and events that aim to deliver actionable recommendations, with a focus on overcoming investment barriers and developing innovative financial instruments to decarbonize transport. The Transport Decarbonization Investment series will include a total of six papers to be launched in the leadup to the COP26 Climate Conference.

Financing Low Carbon Transport Solutions in Developing Countries (TDI paper 6)

The rationale to decarbonize transport is clear and the investment gap has been identified, but can governments gather the much-needed resources? There is no simple answer, and the solution depends on each country context.

The COP26 Transport Day event will be the culmination of the efforts, with the release of a sixth and final paper that will synthesize the main findings of the five papers produced in TDI series, identifying opportunities for investment, accompanied with concrete recommendations for transport to pursue a low carbon pathway. In addition, innovative financing approaches are put forward from a developing market perspective to overcome market barriers that are constraining climate friendly transport solutions.

Building on the recommendations proposed in the TDI series, the event will bring together government leaders and development partners, who will map out priority actions and next steps for climate action across the transport sector.

Decarbonizing the Freight and Logistics Sector (TDI paper 5)

Freight and logistics are a major contributor to climate change (10-11% of overall emissions). The sector is currently almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels, and is expected to see demand surge from 112 trillion ton–kilometers in 2015 to 329 trillion in 2050. As a result, emissions from freight transport are predicted to continue rising, with much of that growth coming from non-OECD countries.

To avoid this scenario, the paper looks at possible decarbonization initiatives across three sub-sectors— maritime, inter-urban and urban freight—with a focus on their efficacy and applicability to the developing country context. The measures considered in the report fall into five broad categories: restraining or reversing the growth of freight movement; making greater use of lower-carbon transport modes; improving vehicle/vessel utilization; increasing energy efficiency; and switching to lower carbon energy sources.

Investing for Momentum in Active Mobility (TDI Paper 4)

Beyond being the most environmentally friendly form of transport, active mobility also provides significant social, economic and health benefits. Yet, active mobility continues to be underfunded, resulting in users being the most vulnerable due to a lack of suitable infrastructure and protection from motorized vehicles. This discussion paper argues these issues are a consequence of misconceptions regarding the benefits from investment and failure to view active mobility as part of an integrated transport network. The paper looks to debunk these misconceptions, identify financing alternatives, and highlight investment opportunities at the local, national and international level to expand the role of active mobility as part of a decarbonized and integrated transport network.

Decarbonizing Cities by Improving Public Transport and Managing Land Use and Traffic (TDI Paper 3)

Cities in developing countries have a unique opportunity to preserve and encourage sustainable urban passenger mobility by building on their existing modal shares in public transport, walking, and biking—low carbon modes. This will require significant improvements to urban infrastructure for public transit, walking, and biking—a reprioritization of investment and space allocation away from the cars driven by the minority to the modes used by the majority—and reforms to public transit service provision that reduce competition within the market, address underfunding, and put the needs of the user first. If cities accompany these investments with the right policies and enabling environment—e.g., making land use regulations more efficient and disincentivizing and managing further car ownership and use—they can raise additional funds to continue to invest in greener transport facilities.

Cleaner Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure: Greening Passenger Fleets for Sustainable Mobility (Paper 2)

Transport sector emissions have grown faster than those of almost any other economic sector over the past 50 years, with additional increases predicted (by as much as 60% by 2050) if no action is taken. Governments worldwide need to take ambitious steps to limit global warming and achieve the Paris Agreement's Climate Agreement's goals. In this context, the transport sector's electrification has never been more prominent and relevant to the ongoing debate on the future of mobility. The newly released discussion paper “Cleaner Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure” identifies tangible actions and policies that policymakers can adopt to promote electric mobility adoption. It highlights that every country needs to develop its own long-term sustainable EV ecosystem— both in terms of (i) transitioning the vehicle fleet from ICE to EV and (ii) deployment of charging infrastructure—based on its own infrastructure condition.

Motorization Management and the Trade of Used Vehicles (Paper 1)

While there are many ways we can help lessen the climate impact of transport, one key priority is to manage motorization more effectively. In developing countries, the number of vehicles on the road is expected to double in the next 15-20 years, and much of that growth will come from used vehicles imported from high-income countries. This creates significant challenges, as the oldest and most poorly maintained vehicles in a national fleet contribute disproportionately to the transport-related local air pollution, GHG emissions, road injuries and fatalities. To address this, the paper explores options and best practices that can help counties improve the environmental and safety standards of their vehicle fleet, improve regulations around the trade of used vehicles, and transition to more sustainable motorization.