En-ROADS User Guide

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.

Big Messages🔗

  • Improving transport energy efficiency is helpful, especially for reducing emissions from oil. Energy efficient vehicles, access to public transportation, and alternative modes of transport, such as walking and biking, reduce energy demand and therefore reliance on oil.

Key Dynamics🔗

  • Impacts.

    • Watch Oil (in red) decrease 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.
  • Delay. There is some delay in how fast this accelerates because energy use is driven by the overall average of all vehicles (not just the new ones). It takes time to replace older vehicles with newer ones, and this will happen faster in some countries than in others.

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 sizable 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.


Energy Efficiency

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. The model structure tracks overall efficiency, which includes retrofitting of existing capital.

Case Studies🔗

New York City: A program that supports students walking and biking to school spent $10 million and saved $230 million from increased physical activity, reduced air pollution, and decreased injury rates.2

Barcelona, Spain: Replacing 20% of Barcelona's car trips with bikes could save 38 lives per year from decreased air pollution and increased physical activity, while also reducing 21,000 tons of CO2 per year.3

Please visit support.climateinteractive.org for additional inquiries and support.


[1]: Lusk, A. (2019, August 23). Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just wealthy white cyclists. The Conversation.

[2]: Muennig, P. A., Epstein, M., Li, G., & Dimaggio, C. (2014). The Cost-Effectiveness of New York City’s Safe Routes to School Program. American Journal of Public Health, 104(7), 1294–1299.

[3]: Rojas-Rueda, D., Nazelle, A. D., Teixidó, O., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. (2012). Replacing car trips by increasing bike and public transport in the greater Barcelona metropolitan area: A health impact assessment study. Environment International, 49, 100–109.

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