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Land transport is a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise. Drawing on a review of available policy documents and secondary literature, we assess the extent to which international governance can promote the transformation of land transport towards sustainability and decarbonisation. We find that the overall international governance potential in the area of sustainable mobility remains underexploited. We explore below how international governance may be enhanced in the land transport sector and offer some concrete options to this end, including institutional reform as well as the potential creation of a new institution in the form of a climate club.


Global Governance

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Our paper “On the Road to Somewhere? Assessing Climate Governance Gaps and Options for the Land Transport Sector (Deliverable 6.1d)” analyses the extent to which international governance can promote the transformation of land transport towards sustainability and deep decarbonisation. First, the paper summarises the key transformation barriers to decarbonisation in land transport. Second, the paper discusses the potential of international governance to overcome these barriers, mapped against six governance functions. Third, the paper discusses the extent to which international institutions have already exploited the governance potential identified in the foregoing section. This discussion leads to an identification of existing governance gaps and unexploited potentials. In a final step, the paper explores options for advancing the global governance of land transport and addressing the identified gaps by discussing proposals for the reform of existing institutions, as well as the creation of new institutions.


The current governance landscape is characterised by a high number of international institutions and initiatives, including UN bodies, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and city networks. In recent years, various initiatives dedicated specifically to the decarbonisation of transport have emerged, increasing the supply of targeted governance.

overview of governance landscape




The paper has identified a number of significant and remaining governance gaps, specifically, the lack of: (1) an authoritative and centralised decarbonisation roadmap for transport, including the absence of a government-backed net-zero target; (2) international requirements in the form of emission targets, for countries to decarbonise land transport; (3) concrete, internationally coordinated phase-out dates for fossil-fuelled vehicles; and (4) international transparency requirements that track sector-specific progress at the country level. Our assessment finds that global governance holds significant potential to address these gaps and ultimately advance the decarbonisation of the land transport sector.



Several of these governance gaps can be addressed through institutional reform of the UNFCCC. Our analysis finds that the new work programme to scale up mitigation ambition and implementation before 2030 could offer a fitting framework to develop an authoritative roadmap and international net-zero target for the transport sector. We propose that the new work programme could also provide a possible avenue to integrate transport-specific commitments into NDCs, potentially in the form of emissions budgets. However, we also suggest that parties could use future COP sessions as platforms to advance further initiatives and frontrunner alliances, particularly in the form of a new Breakthrough for land transport. In addition, we propose that the new work programme also presents a promising way forward to enhance the tracking of sector-specific progress in countries.

UN solution


In terms of addressing the lack of concrete rules concerning vehicle regulations however, our analysis finds that this will require the establishment of a new institution. To this end, we propose the creation of a potential climate club focused on electric mobility, that includes explicit phase-out dates for conventional vehicles.

climate club transport