The future of global transport

International Transport Forum scenarios on the evolution of global mobility until 2050

Growing population, increasing urbanisation and higher incomes will boost demand for transport and put great pressure on transport systems around the globe. This is one of the key findings of Transport Outlook 2010, an annual study published today by the International Transport Forum at the OECD. According to the ITF study, capacity will be hard pressed to expand as rapidly as demand. Transport systems will hence be required to operate much more efficiently in the future.

Transport Outlook 2010 was presented by ITF Secretary General Jack Short on the first day of the ITF’s 2010 Forum event in Leipzig, Germany, which brings together Ministers and senior decision makers from 52 ITF member countries every year to debate strategic issues in global mobility, transport and logistics. This year’s Forum, which continues until 28 May, is headlined as Transport and Innovation: Unleashing the Potential.

According to research by the ITF/OECD’s Joint Transport Research Centre, the current crisis has had a relatively greater impact on trade and transport than previous economic downturns. This is reflected in very large volume and price effects, especially in freight transport: Trade fell by about 20%, according to the CPB World Trade Volume Index, dry bulk shipping rates fell dramatically by a factor of 8 from 2007 to 2008.

Car ownership and car use appear to be levelling off in advanced economies. This is not necessarily saturation, but reflects high and uncertain energy prices, lower and uncertain incomes, a switch to faster modes like air travel or high speed rail.

Air passenger transport is the fastest growing transport mode. The ITF researchers expect that volumes will triple by 2050 as in 2010 – a figure substantially more conservative than that given by the airline industry. The higher levels will only be reached if China and other Asian markets liberalize deeply with Open Skies agreements.

Transport growth will have considerable impact on future CO2 emissions. Stabilizing greenhouse emissions from light-duty vehicles alone will require fuel economy to roughly double. Car emissions would have to attain 90g/km in 2050 as a global average.

Demand management in transport can help to reduce emissions. It is also badly needed to address other transport related problems, such as congestion, air pollution, and noise. But the ITF experts do not see it as a primary tool for curbing emission growth: Firstly, changes on the scale needed to curb CO2 emissions are likely unfeasible or economically undesirable. Secondly, technological innovation provides better ways to reach climate change targets.

In the view of ITF researchers, optimizing fuel economy needs to be the core strategy for transport-related CO2 emissions reduction in the next two decades. Nonetheless, the energy base of transport needs to be transformed if renewed growth of emissions after 2050 is to be avoided.

“Policy support for this lengthy process must start now”, said Jack Short, Secretary General of the ITF, in Leipzig. “Innovation is the key”, said Short. “We need it in all areas: To get the most out of the tried and tested technologies, and to open new paths that can make transport cleaner, safer more accessible and more efficient.”

Transport Outlook 2010 is available at the ITF stand in Leipzig and online from

The International Transport Forum is a strategic think tank for the transport sector. Each year, it brings together Ministers from over 50 countries, along with leading decision-makers and actors from the private sector, civil society and research, to address transport issues of strategic importance. An intergovernmental organisation linked to the OECD, the Forum’s goal is to help shape the transport policy agenda, and ensure that it contributes to economic growth, environmental protection, social inclusion and the preservation of human life and wellbeing. The 2010 International Transport Forum, to be held on 26-28 May in Leipzig, Germany, will focus on Transport and Innovation: Unleashing the Potential.

Auteur: Redactie Infrasite

Bron: International Transport Forum (ITF)