Limits of Transport Decarbonization Under the Current Growth Paradigm

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* Article: The limits of transport decarbonization under the current growth paradigm. BY Ignacio de Blasa, Margarita Mediavilla et al. Energy Strategy Reviews, Volume 32, November 2020, 100543

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• Transportation is the sector most difficult to decarbonize.

• Technological change alone cannot achieve ambitious GHG reductions.

• Transport decarbonization can only be achieved with a strong reduction in demand.

• Strategic minerals are a serious limit to the expansion of electric vehicles.

• MEDEAS-W model shows the limits and rebound effects of transport electrification.


"Achieving ambitious reductions in greenhouse gases (GHG) is particularly challenging for transportation due to the technical limitations of replacing oil-based fuels. We apply the integrated assessment model MEDEAS-World to study four global transportation decarbonization strategies for 2050. The results show that a massive replacement of oil-fueled individual vehicles to electric ones alone cannot deliver GHG reductions consistent with climate stabilization and could result in the scarcity of some key minerals, such as lithium and magnesium. In addition, energy-economy feedbacks within an economic growth system create a rebound effect that counters the benefits of substitution. The only strategy that can achieve the objectives globally follows the Degrowth paradigm, combining a quick and radical shift to lighter electric vehicles and non-motorized modes with a drastic reduction in total transportation demand."