Environment Sustainable Transport

MIT Energy Initiative report charts pathways for sustainable personal transportation

Sustainable Transport


Explores how individual travel decisions will be shaped by interactions between technologies, markets, business models, government policies, and consumer preferences.

Perspectives and insights

  • Continued technological innovation must be accompanied by cross-sector policies and changes to consumer behavior to meet Paris Agreement targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
  • There is considerable opportunity for reducing emissions from personal mobility by improving powertrain efficiency and deploying alternative fuel vehicles in the coming decades.
  • Reducing the carbon intensity of the light-duty vehicle fleet contributes meaningfully to climate change mitigation goals
  • Early government support for alternative fuel vehicles and charging and fueling infrastructure can help launch a self-reinforcing trajectory of adoption.

Xoologue - a discussion between Xoo and Moo

Moo: So what’s new in this, Xoo? The usual analyses and suggestions, no more than that.

Xoo: For a change, Moo, you are correct, though not entirely. There’s something of interest that catches my eye that doesn’t seem to have caught yours.

Moo: You should perhaps refer me to your optician

Xoo: I speak of my mind’s eye, Moo.

Moo: I see

Xoo. Well, my point is you don’t! Tell me, what do you think of the recommendation to reduce the carbon intensity of light-duty vehicle fleet? I see significant merit in it.

M: But I don't see why! Shouldn’t we focus on the big SUVs and the monster trucks? After all, each large truck could be emitting a few hundred times the CO2 that a 2-wheeler/scooter emits!

Xoo: You amaze me sometimes with your knowledge of both automobiles and mathematics, Moo. But think about electrification of vehicles.

Moo: What about it?

Xoo: Electrification of smaller & lighter vehicles is far more feasible & practical in the short and medium term (2020 – 2030 period) than electrifying large trucks. And there are orders of magnitude more lighter vehicles on road worldwide than there are large trucks. To me, these imply that a higher focus on light vehicles electrification can contribute significantly to CO2 abatement until 2030.

Moo: You do have a point there, Xoo.