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New Working Paper: Long Term Energy and Emission Implications of Global Shift to Electricity-Based Public Rail Transit System
14 May 2014

Dr Vaibhav Chaturvedi and Dr Son H Kim have written a working paper on 'Long Term Energy and Emission Implications of Global Shift to Electricity-Based Public Rail Transit System'. The policy highlights and abstract of the paper is given below.

Key Policy Highlights

  • Economy wide carbon price policy will have little impact on transportation emissions
  • Focused energy and emission mitigation policies required for transportation sector
  • Large global shift towards electric rail based public transport is one possible option
  • Transport sector focused policy will have marginal impact on total global emissions
  • A combined transport sector and economy wide policy can reduce costs significantly


Transportation sector service demands are growing with rising incomes across the world and managing energy and emission mitigation challenges from this sector have been identified as a global priority. With high reliance on light-duty vehicles in the present, the future of global transportation system is also geared towards private modes. Public transportation has been argued as an alternative strategy for meeting the rising transportation demands of the growing world, especially the poor, in a sustainable and energy efficient way. The present study analyzes an important yet under-researched question− what are the long-term energy and emission implications of an electric rail based passenger transport system? We analyze a suite of electric rail share scenarios with and without climate policy. In the reference scenario, the transportation system will evolve towards dominance of fossil based light-duty vehicles. We find that an electric rail policy is more successful than an economy wide climate policy in reducing transport sector energy demand and emissions. Economy wide emissions however can only be reduced through a broader climate policy, the cost of which can be reduced by hundreds of billions of dollars across the century when implemented in combination with the transport sector focused electric rail policy. Moreover, higher share of electric rail enhances energy security for oil importing nations and reduces vehicular congestion and road infrastructure requirement as well.

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