imgTransEEIcon Transport – Energy Efficiency

Increase or decrease the energy efficiency of vehicles, shipping, air travel, and transportation systems. Energy efficiency includes things like hybrid cars, expanded public transport, and ways that people can get around using less energy. Adopting more energy efficient practices, such as cycling and walking, can improve public health and save money.


  • Individuals changing their personal behavior to increase walking, biking, using public transit, carpooling, living in higher density neighborhoods, purchasing more efficient vehicles, reducing flying, or telecommuting.
  • Public or corporate policies such as increasing parking prices, investing in public transit, offering tax breaks for efficient vehicles, rewarding carpooling, building bike lanes, creating high density pedestrian friendly urban areas, or performance standards that mandate specific fuel efficiency.
  • Research and development into high efficiency technologies for shipping, vehicles, and air travel.

Key Dynamics

  • Watch Oil (red line) bend down in the “Global Sources of Primary Energy” graph as the world increases the efficiency of its transport. Less oil is burned, and coal and gas fall as well as electrified transport becomes more efficient.
  • View the “Final Energy Consumption” graph to see the fall in energy demand.
  • To see another benefit, look at the “Cost of Energy” graph. Less demand for energy means prices are lower.

Potential Co-Benefits of Encouraging Energy Efficiency

  • Improved air quality as a result of less burning of fossil fuels increases healthcare savings and worker productivity.
  • Better fuel efficiency means energy costs are lower.
  • Mass transit, like buses and trains, can reduce traffic congestion and noise.
  • Improved biking and walking infrastructure increases physical activity and safety, which results in sizeable health savings.

Equity Considerations

  • In some developed countries, such as the United States, pedestrian and cycle-friendly infrastructure has been concentrated in wealthy communities, leaving out low-income families and people of color. [1]
  • When mass transit options improve or operating costs decrease with fuel efficient vehicle use, social equality may improve, as low-income individuals have more transportation options to meet their needs.

Slider Settings

The variable being changed is the annual improvement rate in the energy intensity of new transport capital such as vehicles, trains, and ships.

discouraged status quo increased highly increased
Annual rate -1% to 0% 0% to +1% +1% to +3% +3% to +5%

Model Structure

Increasing the improvement rate in energy use for new vehicles and other infrastructure helps drive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across the transport sector. There is some delay in how fast this accelerates because energy use is driven by the overall average of all capital (not just the new things). The model structure tracks overall efficiency, which includes retrofitting of existing capital.