Long-term pathways to deep decarbonization of the transport sector in the post-COVID world

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - bus, mode - bike, mode - car, policy - sustainable, policy - environment, technology - emissions, planning - travel demand management, planning - personal safety/crime, planning - methods, land use - planning


Post-COVID, New normal, Transport sector, Decarbonization, Pathway, Urban economic model


The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis has influenced economies and societies across the globe and will thoroughly reshape our world as it continues to unfold. The pandemic is likely to trigger permanent long-term impacts on the transport sector in the post-COVID world. While a post-COVID “new normal” will be likely to incur negative consequences, it may provide an opportunity to move toward a more sustainable transport sector. This paper is aimed at developing an urban economic model with an energy focus to depict the dynamics of travel demand, energy consumption, and emissions in the post-COVID world. A set of scenarios was created according to model assumptions regarding lifestyle changes and policy interventions accompanied by the expected post-COVID new normal, to explore long-term pathways toward a deep decarbonization of the transport sector. Scenario simulations demonstrated that working from home, online shopping, and a bike-friendly infrastructure will contribute to a reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions, whereas a significant shift from bus to car transport and the decreasing use of car-sharing services will adversely affect CO2 emission reductions. The arrival of the post-COVID world may contribute to an 11% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2060, while the maximum reduction potential could be as high as 44%. Supporting policies and strategies for encouraging remote work and online shopping as well as for promoting safe public transport, active transport, and carpooling services are needed to strongly decarbonize the transport sector in the post-COVID world. Moreover, population distribution and urban structure may also be influenced by the arrival of the post-COVID new normal, which warrant further attention for urban planning.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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