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Causes of the anthropogenic climate change PART II
The transport sector

Greenhouse gases in the transport sector

With a share of around 30%, the transport sector, including national air traffic, is one of the main emitters of greenhouse gases in Austria. At 56.9%, this sector has recorded the highest increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. Pro local would like to help reduce these emissions by promoting regional value creation and the associated shorter and more efficient transport routes.


Various greenhouse gases are emitted in the transport sector, with the exact emissions varying depending on the means of transport and type of propulsion. The most important greenhouse gases released in the transport sector are:

Carbon dioxide (CO2)
CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas emitted by transport. It is created primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel in cars, trucks, ships and airplanes. These emissions contribute to global warming and are the main cause of climate change in the transport sector.

Methane (CH4)
Methane emissions from transport come primarily from sources such as incomplete combustion of fuels and the use of natural gas as fuel. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, but it occurs in smaller quantities.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
Nitrogen oxides are emitted when fossil fuels are burned in transportation and contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and acid rain. Nitrogen oxides are also precursors for nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide (N2O)
Nitrous oxide emissions in traffic arise primarily from the combustion of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in vehicle engines. These emissions are also responsible for climate change, but their contribution is rather small compared to CO2 and methane.

Carbon monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide is released when fossil fuels are incompletely burned in traffic. Although carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, it has no significant ability to absorb infrared radiation and increase the greenhouse effect. This means that it is not a greenhouse gas like CO2. However, it has adverse health effects and contributes to air pollution.

Particles (fine dust)
Although particulate matter from vehicle exhaust is not a greenhouse gas, it has a significant impact on air quality and human health.

When we take a detailed look at emissions in transport, CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas that has a negative impact on the climate crisis. Nevertheless, there are good reasons why CO2 emissions play a central role in the debate about climate protection.
For more information, read Part III of this series.


Sources: BMK, Umweltbundesamt

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