Decarbonised transport

Accelerating the journey to net zero transport

We need to adopt a system-wide, multi-modal approach that leads to net zero-emission transport options for all.

Scroll to learn how

Transformation of our transport systems to achieve net zero emissions mobility is one of the most significant challenges the world faces as we seek to prevent extreme climate change. Yet transport decarbonisation also offers us a powerful opportunity to achieve positive change at a global scale – improving the quality of mobility for all is an outcome we should pursue as part of decarbonisation.

The decarbonisation agenda creates a fantastic opportunity to drive other beneficial outcomes – from better connected communities to cleaner air to better cities. We believe transport is becoming a flywheel for change, not only within the transport sector itself, but by catalysing wider change in energy systems and cities.

New business models, new technologies, new policies, new sources of power – the transport industry is changing rapidly. From hydrogen trains to walking plans for tropical cities, from timber stations to city-scale low emission zones, from electric bus fleet conversions to low-carbon airports – Arup is helping to drive decarbonised transport in all its forms.

Isabel Dedring Isabel Dedring Global Transport Leader
A photograph of the Brisbane metro, an electric vehicle rapid transport system (RTS) designed by Arup.
Designing a visionary new metro for Brisbane

We are taking lead role in designing the new Brisbane Metro, a ‘turn up and go’ rapid transit system that will transform public transport across the City. The Metro will use 60 trackless electric vehicles, each with a capacity of 150 passengers.

We have the green transport solutions

Today, transport is the source of a quarter of global carbon emissions, but the sector’s outsized contribution to climate change can be turned around – and fast. The solutions we need to accelerate transport decarbonisation are known, available and ready to be deployed in most locations. Governments, businesses and transport users can achieve rapid decarbonisation at scale, provided they work together.

Our approachHere are six priorities for successful energy decarbonisation:


Enable greener choices

Network-wide transport decarbonisation will only be achieved when everyone approaches mobility with a new mindset. From mobility pricing to creating sustainable first and last mile options for all journeys, transport agencies and operators can deploy a growing range of levers to reshape transport demand, incentivise active and public transport, and deliver additional health and wellbeing benefits.

Technologies such as agent-based modelling allow us to gain more detailed and accurate insights into people’s travel behaviours and preferences. This means that we can then design transport solutions that better meet our users’ needs – thereby reducing waste and growing ridership on sustainable modes.

We are developing strategies to support public agencies of all sizes to create alternatives to individual motorised journeys.

For example, working with the Government of Jersey, we delivered a public realm and movement strategy that improves integration of transport modes and supports the behavioural shifts needed to encourage more people to travel using sustainable modes.

Find out more about our work in active travel

Invest in sustainable transport

Investors’ focus is shifting rapidly to ensure they only invest in those transport infrastructure projects that are sustainable. International and regional regulatory initiatives, such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures and the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities, are influencing investors’ decisions and driving finance toward sustainable mobility.

Understanding which projects will make the grade in this investment atmosphere, and how to sequence project development, is essential. Decisions about transport strategy and modal mix are unique to each city or region – we help investors understand the potential benefits and carbon impacts of different proposals, and work with public and private organisations to create projects that will attract green finance.

The challenge of protecting and enhancing operators’ and transport networks’ access to credit and, in turn, controlling the cost of debt will increasingly require transparent, credible emissions transition plans. We work with asset owners and operators in demonstrating their climate-risk preparedness transparently and maintaining a strong investment profile.


Address whole-life carbon emissions

Transport decarbonisation is about far more than vehicle choice and modal mix. System-wide decarbonisation is also about the carbon implications of transport infrastructure design, construction and operation. In particular, minimising embodied carbon in both infrastructure and vehicles must be tackled to achieve credible, comprehensive transport decarbonisation, as is operational emission reduction across supply chains.

The insight we generate from transport networks’ available data provides enormous potential to identify whole life carbon efficiency gains. These insights form the basis of whole life cycle carbon strategies to minimise material use, maximise the lifespan of assets, and repurpose and reuse infrastructure at end of life. We use our experience from a wide range of industries within but also beyond transport to bring ‘best in class’ approaches to whole-life carbon.

Our work exploring the potential uses of mass timber in road bridge structures, metro stations and airports is at the heart of innovations that have the potential to reduce embodied carbon and introduce circular economy techniques.


Accelerate the energy transition

Decarbonising the electricity and power supplies serving transport vehicles and networks is an essential element of creating a net zero transport sector. It is often a first step taken by systems operators seeking to reduce operational carbon. Transport system and fleet operators’ renewable energy purchasing power in the market can also drive greater and more rapid change within local and regional energy markets.

As an energy engineering leader, we develop frameworks for the safe and resilient introduction of renewable sources, allowing large networks and major operators to achieve viable transitions and catalyse change in other sectors. By bringing our deep, on-the-ground energy expertise together with our transport knowledge, we are able to develop and design at the interface of decarbonising energy and transport systems.


Build resilience

From national power outages to flooded metro stations and collapsing bridges, climate change is having increasingly significant impacts on vital transport infrastructure and communities. As an essential complement to net zero transition, we focus on strengthening transport system resilience. Increasing the flexibility and recovery capacity of transport systems as they decarbonise will both reduce emissions whilst minimising climate risks.

Partnering with one of the largest rail asset owners in the world, we have developed an ambitious but practical infrastructure design manual designed to drive a radical reduction of carbon emissions across the supply chain, while simultaneously strengthening infrastructure resilience to extreme weather events.


Manage climate transition risks

The scale of change that transport decarbonisation requires presents operators and owners with significant opportunities and risks - operationally, commercially and legally. Those who move quickly to identify, map and effectively manage transition risks will gain significant competitive advantage. We anticipate transition risks and develop organisational strategies that enable transport networks to proceed with confidence.

We developed an organisational strategy for a UK rail organisation to accelerate their transition to net zero. Our work realigns governance structures and processes to support.

Discover how we’re partnering with clients around the world to shape transport, highways, rail, aviation and maritime.


Meet our experts