Skip to main content

Swedish transport target impossible to reach without reducing car travel

Four tips for the government based on findings in new research study.

Photo: Illiya Vjestica /Unsplash
Published Oct 16, 2023

Calculations by the researchers', Hampus Berg Mårtensson, Mattias Höjer and Jonas Åkerman, highlight the need for large and rapid changes in the vehicle fleet. The amount of cars needs to be significantly smaller by 2030, and it is important that electrification is rapid. The sale of fossil fuel cars must be reduced urgently and the scrapping of such cars must be greatly increased.

In an opinion piece, Professor Mattias Höjer, Research Director Jonas Åkerman and PhD student Hampus Berg discuss how greenhouse gas emissions from traffic can be stopped, and how the transformation pace can be kept high enough.

Car travel causes both direct emissions from driving and indirect emissions from the production of fuel, electricity and vehicles. If the share of electric cars increases significantly, so that direct emissions are reduced by 70 per cent by 2030, the large production of electric cars will instead increase the indirect emissions from production. This will in turn lead to the automotive industry taking an increasing share of the EU's emission allowance and reducing the room for other industrial production.

Necessary changes - tips to the government

The changes in car travel necessary according to the three researchers' findings are substantial. But they warn that if such a shift is not made, climate change will force even more drastic changes in travelling habits in the near future.

Based on the findings of the research paper, they offer the following four tips to the government:

1. Reduced car travel: The government needs to require the Swedish Transport Administration to include reductions in car travel in its planning documents, and to develop methods to see how these reductions can be distributed across the country.

2. Smaller batteries: Policy instruments are needed that reward purchase of electric cars with low energy consumption, which allows for smaller batteries. 

3. Transport-efficient solutions such as car sharing need to be encouraged. Car sharing in itself reduces emissions, but it mainly contributes to better car availability when car ownership decreases.

4. Solutions for the climate impact of passenger car traffic need to include both the direct emissions from driving and the indirect production emissions.

Read the open access article "Low emission scenarios with shared and electric cars: Analyzing life cycle emissions, biofuel use, battery utilization, and fleet development" here

Read the opinion piece ”Transportmålet omöjligt att nå utan minskat bilresande” here (in Swedish)

Belongs to: Mistra SAMS
Last changed: Oct 16, 2023