Steering Land Transport in a Sustainable Direction with International Governance

Article published in Earth System Governance journal

  • News 24.02.2021

Transport is one of the largest and fastest-growing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources worldwide. In a new article in the Earth System Governance Journal, Wolfgang Obergassel, Co-Head of the International Climate Policy Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute, and Dr. Oliver Lah and Dr. Frederic Rudolph from the Mobility and International Cooperation Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute analyse the potential of international governance to promote the transformation of land transport towards sustainability. While many decisions on land transport are taken at the national and sub-national levels, the authors argue that international governance could nonetheless make a number of contributions to shifting the development of the sector into a more sustainable direction.

The article proceeds in three steps: First, the authors summarise key strategies and instruments to move towards sustainable mobility as well as challenges and barriers that impede the transformation of the sector. Second, they analyse how international institutions could principally assist with overcoming these barriers and advancing the sector's decarbonisation ("governance potential"). Finally, they assess to what extent existing intergovernmental and transnational institutions that have relevance for the decarbonisation of land transport have so far delivered on the identified governance potential.

Their analysis finds that while there is a large number of international institutions trying to promote the decarbonisation of land transport, none of them emerge saliently as core institutions. Many international institutions are performing a substantial amount of activity to generate and disseminate knowledge and learning on sustainable transport solutions, such as data gathering and training programmes. But there is a lack of clear international targets on climate protection in transport, of binding climate protection rules, of transparency and accountability, and of providing means of implementation to poorer countries. The authors conclude with suggestions on how international governance may be strengthened.

The article "Driving towards transformation? To what extent does global climate governance promote decarbonisation of land transport?" was published in the journal Earth System Governance and is available at the link below.

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