We promote sustainable, low-emission transport and work to reduce the sector’s contribution to air pollution and climate change.

Promoting sustainable low emissions transport

The transport sector contributes approximately one quarter of all energy related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Today's transport sector is predominantly based on the combustion of fossil fuels, making it one of the largest sources of both urban and regional air pollution. Recent studies estimate outdoor air pollution causes more than 3.2 million premature deaths each year worldwide.

The vast majority of people living in developing countries rely on walking and cycling to meet their daily mobility needs. Some 80% of trips in African countries are still made by foot. Unfortunately, many do so under dangerous conditions, due to poor infrastructure, a lack of integrated public transport systems, and a quickly increasing number of old and poorly maintained and highly polluting motor vehicles that share the same road space with pedestrians, cyclists, and carts.

The lack of access to clean, safe and affordable transport also impacts local development, reducing access to education and food security as well as lost economic opportunities.

UN Environment and transport

Although governments are increasingly addressing air pollution and the energy used by the transport sector, there is often a large gap between available technology and best practice, as well as the networks necessary to build consensus for transformative change. UN Environment addresses these gaps through four global transport programmes that promote a shift towards a less car-intensive world. Through better planning and infrastructure, UN Environment also promotes the benefits of ‘mode shifting’ from private motor vehicle use to public transport and non-motorised transport, such as walking and cycling.