Bridging the gap between transport and energy to achieve sustainable mobility

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A wind park near the village of Bulgarevo, Bulgaria. Photo: Boris Balabanov/World Bank
Photo: Boris Balabanov/World Bank

Bridging the gap between the transport and energy sectors is crucial for the international transport community to achieve universal, efficient, safe, and green mobility.

These past couple of months, we explained how better data sharing can help countries achieve sustainable mobility. We also highlighted the potential of sustainable electric mobility. Now, let us shift gears and talk about coordinating the transformation of the energy and transport sectors.

Currently, only 3.3% of transport is powered by renewable energy and the sector is responsible for roughly one quarter of global energy-related GHG emissions. Leveraging synergies between transport and energy can improve energy efficiency in transport and mitigate their climate impact. That’s what led the Sustainable Mobility for All initiative (SuM4All) to coordinate the development of a new Digital Toolkit for Energy and Mobility, which will launch virtually on Wednesday, June 16th.  

To learn more, we caught up with Clotilde Rossi di Schio, a Senior Energy Efficiency Specialist working with Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). Clotilde is one of several experts who led the development of the digital toolkit with the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO)-High Volume Transport (HVT) Applied Research Programme under the SuM4All umbrella.


Here is a snapshot of our conversation:


Jennifer Okaima Piette: Tell us about the opportunity you’ve identified to address both energy and transport together. What does that mean for policymakers?

Clotilde Rossi di Schio: The nexus between energy and mobility has never been more pertinent. Fossil-fuel based transport is contributing to the ongoing climate crisis and to air pollution. As we ‘recover better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to discuss how sustainable energy and low-carbon transport can be developed together to provide sustainable mobility. 

Dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be needed in the coming decades to keep global warming well below 2°C and avoid dangerous climate change. Without rapid and ambitious mitigation action, transport emissions could more than double by 2050.

Following the Avoid/Shift/Improve framework, policymakers can link the two sectors together and can:

  • Promote less travel through better integration of land use, transport, and energy planning (avoid)
  • Have the opportunity to shift to more energy efficient modes of transportation, such as walking, cycling, and public transport (buses, bus rapid transit, rail)
  • Improve available technology though technology (fuel economy standard, tires, fuel switching, electric vehicles, taxes and incentives, scrappage, feebates) and behavioral policy (eco-driving, congestion charging).


Jennifer Okaima Piette: In terms of bridging the gap between the transport and energy sectors and helping countries achieve sustainable mobility, what one policy recommendation would you make to policy makers?

Clotilde Rossi di Schio: Our working group focused on three policies from the Global Roadmap of Action toward Sustainable Mobility (GRA):

  1. Promote Public Discussion on New Mobility Solutions

When making transport policy decisions and evaluating new mobility solutions, it is critical that policy makers raise awareness to the public so that both energy and mobility considerations are well-communicated and easily understood. Switching to more energy efficient modes such as e-bikes and scooters, ensuring charging with renewable electricity, and relying on shared mobility can save energy and help decrease emissions. 

  1. Expand Public Transport Infrastructure

Expanding public transport helps cities contain their energy transport consumption and emissions. Shifting public transport vehicles to renewable energy can mean financial savings on fuel, increased energy security and resilience, lower emissions, improved air quality, and better health outcomes. Public transport infrastructure is even more important in the COVID-19 recovery context, where cities will need to avoid going from lockdown to gridlock.

  1. Plan for Integrated Multimodal Transport Networks

Freight transport efficiency, including multi-modality in line with the avoid-shift-improve approach, is essential to optimize global supply chains and trade.  Similarly, fuel sources need to be taken into account: while transport currently relies almost entirely on fossil fuels – the primary reason behind the sector’s high emissions, greener alternatives are already available (sustainable biofuels, electrification or hybridization), and several others are emerging (hydrogen, renewable e-fuels).


Jennifer Okaima Piette: Where do we go from here? What is needed to translate this work into action? And how do we ensure that the policy recommendations are put into practice?

Clotilde Rossi di Schio: Our working group has developed a digital toolkit with a four-step guide that can help navigate and leverage existing documents and resources. The four steps are:

  • Set the baseline (where are we now?)
  • Identify targets (where are we going?)
  • Utilize strategy and tools available (how do we get there?)
  • Explore further resources and tools available (what do we need?)

The aim of the toolkit is to support policymakers to put into practice the three measures described above. The content of the toolkit is publicly accessible and has been integrated in the broader Policy Decision-Making Tool for Sustainable Mobility 2.0 that helps users improve public decision making in transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agree­ment targets. The next step for the working group is to identify a region to pilot this approach.


Don’t miss the official launch of the Digital Toolkit for Energy and Mobility produced by Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) partnership. Please register to join us on June 16, 10:00AM EST:


Launch of the SuM4All Digital Toolkit for Energy and Mobility


Jennifer Okaima Piette

Communications consultant, World Bank

Clotilde Rossi di Schio

Senior Specialist, Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL)

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