Global transportation energy use is steeply rising, mainly as a result of increasing population and economic activity. Petroleum fuels remain the dominant energy source, reflecting advantages such as high energy density, low cost, and market availability. The movement of people and freight makes a major contribution to economic development and social well-being, but it also negatively impacts climate change, air quality, health, social cohesion, and safety. Following a review published 20 years ago in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources (then named the Annual Review of Energy and the Environment) by Lee Schipper, we examine current trends and potential futures, revising several major global transport/energy reports. There are significant opportunities to slow travel growth and improve efficiency. Alternatives to petroleum exist but have different characteristics in terms of availability, cost, distribution, infrastructure, storage, and public acceptability. The transition to low-carbon equitable and sustainable transport will take time but can be fostered by numerous short- and medium-term strategies that would benefit energy security, health, productivity, and sustainability.
Annual Review of Environment and the Resources, 2014, Vol 39, Issue 1, p. 295-325