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Transport impacts on atmosphere and climate: Land transport

E Uherek, T Halenka, J Borken-Kleefeld, Y Balkanski, Terje K. Berntsen, Carlos Borrego, Michael Gauss, P Hoor, K Juda-Rezler, J Lelieveld, D Melas, Kristin Rypdal, S Schmid

Emissions from land transport, and from road transport in particular, have significant impacts on the atmosphere and on climate change. This assessment gives an overview of past, present and future emissions from land transport, of their impacts on the atmospheric composition and air quality, on human health and climate change and on options for mitigation. In the past vehicle exhaust emission control has successfully reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. This contributed to improved air quality and reduced health impacts in industrialised countries. In developing countries however, pollutant emissions have been growing strongly, adversely affecting many populations. In addition, ozone and particulate matter change the radiative balance and hence contribute to global warming on shorter time scales. Latest knowledge on the magnitude of land transport's impact on global warming is reviewed here. In the future, road transport's emissions of these pollutants are expected to stagnate and then decrease globally. This will then help to improve the air quality notably in developing countries. On the contrary, emissions of carbon dioxide and of halocarbons from mobile air conditioners have been globally increasing and are further expected to grow. Consequently, road transport's impact on climate is gaining in importance. The expected efficiency improvements of vehicles and the introduction of biofuels will not be sufficient to offset the expected strong growth in both, passenger and freight transportation. Technical measures could offer a significant reduction potential, but strong interventions would be needed as markets do not initiate the necessary changes. Further reductions would need a resolute expansion of low-carbon fuels, a tripling of vehicle fuel efficiency and a stagnation in absolute transport volumes. Land transport will remain a key sector in climate change mitigation during the next decades.

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