Climate Action, Game Changers; Urban Transport

Your commute to work, the family gathering, the food on your table, and the goods you buy – all rely on transport and our lives are unthinkable without it. But transport also represents a growing threat to our planet. Buses, cars, planes, ships, and trucks burn fossil fuels, and this causes climate change.

Transport accounts for 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last three decades, transport emissions grew at an annual average rate of 1.7% — faster than any other sector except industry. These emissions must fall by more than 3% a year to 2030 to get on track with net zero goals, according to the International Energy Agency.  

What the world needs now are affordable solutions that can rapidly cut transport’s dependence on fossil fuels, improve people’s lives, and can be expanded quickly to more places. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems meet these goals.  

BRTs also address a growing problem in our cities. Cities are expanding fast – especially in developing countries – and so is the number of cars. Faced with epic traffic jams and polluted air, many cities are trying to move people more efficiently, safely, and affordably, and with a much smaller carbon footprint. 

Without alternatives to carbon-intensive transport in the world’s fastest-growing cities, emissions are set to rise. By 2050, the demand for passenger transport could grow by 75% from 2019 levels, with disastrous impacts on the planet unless emissions are cut drastically.

BRTs’ bus-only lanes take cars off the road and move people quickly, providing the benefits of metro systems at a fraction of the cost.  They can also rapidly cut the dependence of public transport systems on fossil fuels. The revolution in battery technology has made battery powered electric buses increasingly viable around the world.  

One such example is in Cairo in Egypt. The government, with the World Bank’s support, is preparing to introduce some 100 electric buses, laying the groundwork for a much larger fleet of e-buses in the future. Shifting traffic from cars to buses already helps cut down on vehicle-related air pollution; electrifying this shift takes the benefits even further.   

Another example is in Senegal. The capital city of Dakar is introducing a new fully electric BRT line – the first in West Africa. Dakar’s BRT reduces the number of cars on the road and shifts commuters to electric rather than fossil fuel-powered vehicles – reducing both local and global emissions. Over its lifetime, the BRT project will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an estimated 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide– equivalent to taking more than a quarter of a million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off the road for one year.  

Backed by the World Bank, European Investment Bank, public and private sources, the BRT project is also part of Senegal’s climate pledge under the Paris Agreement to mitigate global warming and adapt to climate change.