IEA Report Underscores Sustainability of Rail Transport
26 July 2012: The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) have published "Railway Handbook 2012: Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions," which highlights the environmental sustainability of rail transport and includes current information from the UIC and IEA databases.
The report is composed of Part I, on Europe, and Part II, a selection from non-European countries. The report indicates that global rail transport produces less than 1% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions caused by the transport sector. It notes that all transport modes except railways have increased their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fuel combustion. Meanwhile, energy efficiency in the rail sector has been improved over the last two decades through strategies such as loading trains more effectively and deploying more fuel efficient rolling stocks (vehicles that move on a railway). According to the report, in 2009, 13% less energy was needed to move a passenger over a kilometer and 19% less energy to move a tonne over a kilometer, compared with railway figures from 1990.
Trains, especially in Europe, rely mostly on electricity, and the electricity markets are subjected to mechanisms to lower the carbon content of electricity through the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS). [Publication: Railway Handbook 2012: Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions]