Transport : challenges and potential for climate-smart solutions in Africa
In 2018, transportation was responsible for 24 % of direct global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (International Energy Agency -IEA 2019 Report). As home to some of the fastest-growing populations and rates of urbanisation in the world, what are Africa’s mobility trends? Is there a growing green transport sector in African countries, and who is responsible for the transition? While some successful approaches are emerging, Africa’s 54 countries are sharply diverse.
Cleaning up the transport sector has many benefits besides mitigation, ranging from public health and safety benefits to productivity gains from improved transport systems. Under its expanded scope, the GCCA+ has potential to offer technical support to partner countries to build green transport systems and to take measures to drastically reduce emissions per unit even in the face of growing demand for mobility.
The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report stressed the urgency of strong actions across all transport modes. Some EU cities, such as Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Athens, are working with different solutions to tackle transport emissions. However, given the vastly different circumstances, how can proven climate-smart transport solutions be replicated in Africa? We are talking about a continent where cars banned by EU rules are popular; where poor road safety creates dangerous conditions; and where many households cannot afford public transport fares and opt for decrepit polluting options.
There are many potential scenarios that could be developed in the future to support sustainable cities and communities. Reducing black carbon and other polluting particulates, while improving transport accessibility for all social groups, is a key lever for alleviating poverty and improving the quality of life.
The more-developed African states are already leading the way. South Africa is taking concrete action such as shifting freight from road to rail. According to the South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs, it is projected that this action will save almost 3 000 ktCO2eq. per year by 2050 (0.66 % of the total mitigation potential). Some East African cities have started to look at how they can scale up sustainable mass transport options across the region. Dar es Salaam, for instance, has implemented an excellent bus rapid transit (BTR) system that is now carrying around 200 000 passengers a day.
Across the continent, cities, in particular, can play a substantial role in catalysing a shift towards green transport systems. Interested countries should approach their EU Delegations and request GCCA+ support to reduce emissions from transport at the national and local level.