July 21, 2010

New ADB Roadmap to Reducing Transportation Carbon Emissions in Asia

A new report, “Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transportation”, recently published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provides an important new roadmap to cut greenhouse gases in this sector. With this report, the ADB becomes the first multilateral development bank to estimate the carbon footprint of its transportation assistance programs. These amount to 792 million tons for the projects supported by ADB between 2000-2009, nearly equal to the annual land transport emissions of Thailand.

The report breaks new ground by identifying various ways to measure how much transport infrastructure projects contribute to climate change as a function of the nature and cost of the projects and the amount of mobility provided for passengers and freight. The report shows that local pollution reduction and CO2 reduction are correlated. Three-fourths of ADB’s transport sector investments in the past decade have been in building expressways and the report finds these substantially increase CO2 emissions. The report shows how redirecting a portion of such investments to lower-carbon sustainable transport projects could have significantly cut CO2 emissions.  For example, if ADB’s investment in expressways had been cut by half in the past decade and the funds instead invested in 6,863 km of road rehabilitation, 824 km of BRT, and 32,942 km of bikeways, it would have cut ADB’s transportation sector carbon footprint by 25%, to 591 million tons.

The ADB report provides new analytic tools for carbon emissions intensity measurement, suggests ways to improve project designs to cut CO2, and offers suggestions for including carbon emissions monitoring into ADB’s project reporting process. The new sketch analysis tools for CO2 evaluation are designed to evaluate various road, public transport, and non-motorized transport initiatives, with sensitivity to induced demand, network saturation, and variations in motor vehicle fleet composition. These have been recently published for public comment by ADB here. These ADB-supported tools are being further developed and adapted by ITDP and CAI-Asia for proposed use by the Global Environmental Facility.

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