Transport for our 100% renewable energy future

Background - 1 July, 2016
Imagine getting where you need to go in a city where transport is clean, quiet, efficient and free from polluting emissions. Smart transport systems powered by 100 percent renewable energy are pivotal to our clean energy future. It's an exciting and ambitious goal, and to reach it we'll need a transport revolution. The good news is this future is closer than ever.

Today about one-quarter of the world’s energy goes to transport people and goods by road, rail, air and sea. Almost all this energy comes from oil products that fuel climate change. These dirty fuels also choke our cities with air pollution, making us sick.

Challenging — but we can do it!

We must have renewably-powered, smart transport to clean up our polluted air and make the urgent global shift to the clean, safe and secure 100 percent renewable energy future we all want.

Reaching this transport goal is one of the most ambitious challenges of this shift, Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution analysis shows. It requires a true technical revolution.

How we'll get there

We'll need to phase out oil and other fossil fuels used for transport, and replace them with electricity from the sun, wind and other renewable sources. We'll use this clean electricity directly for transport, or indirectly to create synthetic transport fuels.

Our transport revolution has already begun. Rapid growth in electric vehicles, car sharing, and transport-on-demand is helping move more people quickly and conveniently, with less energy.

But from here, making the shift to a 100 percent renewable transport system will take bigger changes. We'll need to:

  1. make our cities more compact to reduce the need for transport

  2. limit private motor vehicle transport and shift to public transport, walking and cycling — all more energy efficient options

  3. improve the efficiency of all types of transport

The transport revolution starts in megacities

Found on most continents, megacities — those with populations of over ten million people — include Shanghai, Tokyo, Manila, Mumbai, Kinshasa, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Los Angeles.

Megacities are where the transport revolution begins. In these places, it is possible today to quickly shift people from individual vehicles to public transport and other modes of transportation powered by renewable energy. We can make these changes using technology we have now, including electric bikes, hydrogen buses and electric vehicles.

See our 2018 report on how we can all breathe cleaner air in our cities.

100% renewable transport in action

The exciting breakthroughs of today provide a window into the future of 100 percent renewable transport:

  • Britain's Bio Bus is the first to run entirely on gas generated from sewage and food waste. The annual waste of five people generates enough biomethane for one tank, for up to 300km of travel.

  • China's hydrogen powered tram, the world's first, is designed to carry 380 passengers. Powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells, its only exhaust is water.  

  • Australia's proposed solar-powered tram for Melbourne would reduce emissions and create new green technology jobs.  Two new solar farms would provide electricity to cover the tram's power use.

What is Greenpeace doing?

Around the world, Greenpeace is campaigning for the urgent leap to 100 percent clean, safe, renewable energy sources. To clear the air and protect the climate, Greenpeace is calling for a phase out of combustion vehicles in some countries.  

The transport revolution we need is possible all that's required is political action.

What can you do?

Start a transport revolution in your own life! Read about transport choices to help you save money, get healthier and fitter, and cut emissions.

More information