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Question: What initiatives, policies and technologies can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector?
Submit proposals 
Rules: All entrants must agree to the Contest Rules and Terms of Use. 
Deadline: Monday, May 23, 2016 at 19:59:59 PM Eastern Standard Time 
Judging Criteria & Prizes: See below. 


The transportation sector includes the movement of people and goods by cars, buses, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, and other modes, including non-motorized vehicles.  Each of these modes connects spatially dispersed locations, as themselves interact with many disciplines of the CoLab, including materials, energy supply, industry, waste management, agriculture and forestry, etc. An efficient transportation system is critical for the functioning of economies.

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are CO2 emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans. These sources account for over half of the emissions from the sector.  With 75 percent of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 yet to be built, actions taken right now will shape urbanization patterns and quality of life for decades. Time is of the essence.

Key Issues in this sector

Widespread adoption of information technologies, increased vehicle automation, growing electrification of vehicle drive trains, and emergence of the sharing economy in general and shared mobility services in particular may generate a disruptive change in the way we travel. In addition, there are signs of possible change in values and travel behavior of the Millennials.  Many open questions remain.


Additional Guidance from the Advisors & Fellows

Actions to address COemissions involve a mix of social and physical activities. For instance, proposals for the transportation sector could consider the following actions:

In this short list of examples, numbers 1 and 2 involve technology improvements for vehicles, or “physical actions”: the United States Environmental Protection Agency's CAFE regulations can help speed the development and introduction of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Number 3 is mostly a “social” approach, involving government policy aimed at inducing individuals to change their habits, but can be aided by physical infrastructure such as HOV lanes, mobile phone apps (carpooling) or public transit terminals (for mode-shifts).  Number 4 asks the private sector to work collaboratively with government to create a paradigm shift in industry and federal incentives. Number 5 addresses policy actions including land-use, transport planning or economic incentives have consequences for transport activity, energy use, and emissions. Proposals that aim to increase mobility in concert with creating greater access are strongly encouraged.

Judging Criteria

Judges will be asked to evaluate proposals on the following criteria: feasibility, novelty, impact and presentation quality.  Winning proposals will be especially strong in at least one of the first three dimensions, and also well presented.  For details about the judging criteria, click here.

You can find the proposal template here, and contest schedule here.


Top proposals in each contest will be awarded...

Judges’ Choice Winner – Strongest overall
Popular Choice Winner – Received the most votes during the voting period
Impact Award – Largest impact and highly feasible
Novelty Award – Most innovative

The Judges’ and Popular Choice Winners will be invited to MIT to present their proposal, enter the Climate CoLab Winners Program and be eligible for the $10,000 Grand Prize. All award winners will receive wide recognition and visibility by the MIT Climate CoLab. 

All Finalists are asked to submit a 3-minute video outlining their proposal.  Videos will be featured on the MIT Climate CoLab website and Winners will show their videos at the conference.

If your proposal is included in a top global climate action plan, you will receive CoLab Points, which are redeemable for cash prizes.  


British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association:

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe - Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation for International Transport Networks

The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) and Michelin Challenge Bibendum (MCB) have taken the initiative for the PPMC.

Eltis is an online portal launched by the Intelligent Energy Europe program focused on urban mobility.

Land Transport and How to Unlock Investment in Support of "Green Growth”

International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), 2012. Global Transportation Energy and Climate Roadmap: 

International Energy Agency, 2013. World Energy Outlook: 

Kamargianni, Maria et al. 2015.  Feasibility Study for “Mobility as a Service” concept in London FS-MaaS Project – Final Deliverable, UCL Energy Institute and Department for Transport:

US Sustainability Directors Network:

Mineta Transportation Institute, February 2012. "Integration of Bicycling and Walking Facilities into the Infrastructure of Urban Communities.
Mineta Transportation Institute, March 2010. "Carsharing and Public Parking Policies: Assessing Benefits, Costs, and Best Practices in North America."

Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, University of California - Berkeley, August 2009. "Electric Vehicles in the United States: A New Model with Forecasts to 2030.

Union of Concerned Scientists, April 2012. "State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings across the United States" Norton, Emily and Jenny Rushlow, March 2013. "Deploying Eletric Vehicles in MA: A Policy Overview.

Federal Transit Administration, August 2011. "Flooded Bus Barns and Buckled Rails: Public Transportation and Climate Change Adaptation.

Sims Gallagher, Kelly and Erich Muehlegger, Feburary 2008. "Giving Green to Get Green: Incentives and Consumer Adoption of Hybrid Vehicle Technology.

Schrank, David, Bill Eisele, and Tim Comax, December 2012. "Urban Mobility Report" Texas A&M Transportation Institute.




Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read