Transitioning buildings toward net-zero energy makes buildings healthier and more comfortable, and smart approaches to retrofitting and new construction can create an economic boon for the city.
Carbon-Free City Handbook: Transportation and Mobility
Download this report
The transportation sector is responsible for 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in large cities. But more cities are implementing strategies that move people and goods with less carbon.
Action 6: Fleet Electrification
Replace city-owned fossil-fuel vehicles (e.g., automobiles, light- and heavy-duty trucks, public buses, police vehicles) with vehicles that fully or partially run on electricity, such as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
- Pratt, Andrea. A Clean and Green Fleet: An Updated Action Plan For the City of Seattle. City of Seattle’s Department of Finance & Administrative Services, Fleet Management Division, 2014.
Seattle’s green fleet action plan
- City of New York. NYC Clean Fleet: New York City will lead by example in pursuing 80×50 transportation emissions reductions by improving the sustainability of its municipal vehicle fleet. 2015.
New York City’s clean fleet plan
- City of Montreal. Rolling Stock Green Policy 2016-2020. 2016.
Montreal’s green fleet policy
- Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Cities & Climate Leadership Buy 100% Electric Vehicles for City Fleets.”
- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Plug-In Electric Vehicle Handbook for Fleet Managers.
- City of Montreal. Sustainable Montréal 2016-2020.
- City of Montreal. Electrifying Montreal: Transportation Electrification Strategy 2016-2020.
Action 7: Combustion Vehicle Reduction
Develop policies that limit internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in city centers, penalize “dirtier” vehicles more for driving or parking in the city, and develop long-term plans to ban diesel vehicles and ultimately all ICE vehicles in cities.
- Paris Office of the Mayor. “Arrêté n° 2017P0007 instaurant une zone à circulation restreinte à Paris (English Translation: Order No. 2017P0007 establishing a restricted traffic zone in Paris).”
Paris’s combustion vehicle phase-out law
- City of Paris. “Comment Paris lutte contre la pollution de l’air (English Translation: How Paris fights against air pollution)” 2013.
Additional information on the Paris phase-out law’s implementation
- French Government, “Arrêté du 21 juin 2016 établissant la nomenclature des véhicules classés en fonction de leur niveau d’émission de polluants atmosphériques en application de l’article R. 318-2 du code de la route (English translation: Order of 21 June 2016 establishing the nomenclature of vehicles classified according to their level of emission of atmospheric pollutants pursuant to Article R. 318-2 of the Highway Code).” October 10, 2017.
- Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition. “Service de délivrance des certificats qualité de l’air (English translation: Air quality certificate issuance service).”
- Bright, Robert. “How Major Cities Will Actually Ban Diesel Vehicles.” Huffington Post, August 22, 2017.
- Karaguilian, Federico, Claudio A. Belis, Carlos Francisco C. Dora, Annette M. Prüss-Ustün, Sophie Bonjour, Heather Adair-Rohani, Markus Amann. “Contributions to cities’ ambient particulate matter (PM): A systematic review of local source contributions at global level.” Atmospheric Environment 120 (November 2015): 475-483
- Garfield, Leanna. “13 cities that are starting to ban cars.” Business Insider, August 5, 2017.
- Smith, Geoffrey. “Paris Wants to Ban the Combustion Engine by 2030.” Fortune, October 12, 2017.
Action 8: Freight Reduction
Reduce urban freight emissions through various regulatory and voluntary programs, including mandatory freight emissions standards, designated truck routes, stopping and standing laws, and off-peak delivery programs.
- Dublin City Council. “Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) Management Strategy.”
Includes maps, regulations, and user manuals
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. How to Develop a Green Freight Program: A Comprehensive Guide and Resource Manual. 2014.
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems (CoE-SUFS). “Initiative Selector Tool for Improving Freight System Performance.”
- “Global Green Freight.”
- O’Brien, Brendan and Niall Bolger. 10 years of the Heavy Goods Vehicle Management Strategy. Roads and Traffic Department, Dublin City Council, 2017.
- “Clean Air Asia.”
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. “Freight and Congestion.”
- LaBelle, Jim, Sheena Frève, and Ellen Gottschling. Off-Peak Delivery: A Pilot Project for the Chicago Region. Urban Transportation Center, The University of Illinois at Chicago.
- Finnegan, Clare. Urban freight in Dublin: an integrated policy framework for sustainable distribution [thesis]. Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College, 2010.
Action 9: EV Charging
Expand electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure by directly installing public charging stations and/or incentivizing the private sector to do so.
- Greater London Authority. “Policy 6.13 Parking, Chapter Six: London’s Transport,” The London Plan.
London’s electric vehicle charging station requirement
- City of Oslo. EV Charging Points in Oslo — 400 Public Charging Points in 4 Years 2008-2011.
Lessons from the first four years of Oslo’s EV charging strategy
- Hall, Dale, Marissa Moultak, and Nic Lutsey. Electric Vehicle Capitals of the World: Demonstrating the Path to Electric Drive. The International Council on Clean Transportation, 2017.
- Amsterdam Roundtables Foundation and McKinsey & Company. Electric Vehicles in Europe: gearing up for a new phase? 2014.
- Elkind, Ethan. Plugging Away: How to Boost Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Bank of America, UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) and UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, 2017.
- Smith, Margaret, and Jonathan Castellano. Costs Associated With Non-Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 2015.
We intend to cut the city’s carbon emissions by 36% in 2020 and 95% by 2030. Zero emission cars, machinery, and public transportation are fundamental for our success. Today 40% of all new cars sold in Oslo are fully electric.
‐Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, Vice Mayor for Environment and Transport, City of Oslo
Action 10: Car-Free Downtown
Eliminate cars from high-density districts by creating car-free pedestrian zones, limiting vehicles on certain days of the week, and implementing congestion pricing.
- Government of Singapore. “Road Traffic Act (Chapter 276), Road Traffic (Electronic Road Pricing System) Rules 2015.”
Describes Singapore’s electronic road pricing system
- City of Madrid. “Plan de Calidad de aire de la ciudad de Madrid y Cambio Climático (PLAN A) (English Translation: Air Quality Plan for the city of Madrid and Climate Change (PLAN A).”
Includes goals, action plan, and data analysis from Madrid
- Pike, Ed. Congestion Charging: Challenges and Opportunities. The International Council on Clean Transportation, 2010.
- Singapore’s Land Transport Authority. “Electronic Road Pricing (ERP).”
- Wang, Ying., Su Song, Shiyong Qiu, Lu Lu, Yilin Ma, Xiaoyi Li, and Ying Hu. Study on International Practices for Low Emission Zone and Congestion Charging (Working Paper). World Resources Institute, 2017.
- Singapore’s Land Transport Authority. “Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) Rates.”
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. “What is Congestion Pricing?” Congestion Pricing — A Primer: Overview.
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. “Summary Of Selected Projects And Findings.” Lessons Learned From International Experience in Congestion Pricing.
- Morfeld, Peter, David A. Groneberg, and Michael F. Spallek. “Effectiveness of Low Emission Zones: Large Scale Analysis of Changes in Environmental NO2, NO and NOx Concentrations in 17 German Cities.” PLOS ONE, August 12, 2014.
Action 11: Mobility Alternatives
Introduce mobility alternatives to high-density areas to reduce single-occupancy vehicle traffic and enhance movement throughout the city, including bikeshare programs, expanded public transit, cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly streets, and integration between transit options.
- Wuhan Transportation Committee. “武汉市关于鼓励规范互联网租赁自行车健康发展的指导 (试行）(征求意见稿) (English Translation: Wuhan City, on encouraging the healthy development of the Internet rental bike guidance (Trial) (Exposure Draft)).”
Wuhan’s proposed bikeshare policy improvements
- Vancouver City Council. Transportation 2040, 2012.
Details specific policies related to walking, cycling, transit-oriented mobility, and other solutions
- Atherton, Emiko, Alex Dodds, Mary Eveleigh, and Heather Zaccaro. The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2016. Smart Growth America/National Complete Streets Coalition, 2017.
- Gota, Sudhir, Sameera Kumar Anthapur, and Parthaa Bosu. Promoting Non-Motorized Transport in Asian Cities: Policymakers’ Toolbox. UN Habitat for A Better Urban Future, Clean Air Asia, and Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, 2013.
- Sustainia and C40. “Wuhan: Carbon Credit Scheme Bolsters Massive Bike-Share Program.” Global Opportunity Explorer, September 15, 2016.
Action 12: Public Transit
Rapidly deploy public transit solutions such as bus rapid transit (BRT) or light rail to city hot spots, which could be areas with high congestion, populous areas with currently limited access to public transit, or areas with issues that increase single-occupancy vehicle
(SOV) use within the city.
- Wright, Lloyd, and Walter Hook, eds. The BRT Planning Guide. Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, 2007.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) planning guide
- C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Good Practice Guide: Bus Rapid Transit.
- Carrigan, Aileen, Robin King, Juan Miguel Velasquez, Matthew Raifman, and Nicolae Duduta. Social, Environmental, and Economic Impacts of BRT Systems: Bus Rapid Transit Case Studies from Around the World. World Resources Institute.
BRT corridors in Rio de Janeiro reduced travel time and provided greater accessibility to public transit riders.
‐Marcos Tognozzi, BRT Coordinator, City of Rio de Janeiro
Get More Action Docs
Browse Additional Recommendations by Sector
Leading cities are transforming electricity generation to carbon-free renewable energy by first committing to bold 100% renewable energy targets, then implementing comprehensive action plans.
Industry is a major employer and economic driver in many global cities, significantly shaping a city’s carbon emissions. Strategic partnerships with corporate residents can achieve economic and environmental solutions that benefit everyone.
Cities can shift the flow and management of their biological resources to reduce emissions, capture carbon, and provide numerous other benefits to a city.
Cities have an important role to play creating or expanding financing options and improving access to such financing.
Engage with Us
City leaders and sustainability officers: take action today to put your city on a pathway to zero-carbon.