Transport makes up 20 percent of the World’s energy use; in OECD countries this has exceeded 30 percent. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the global energy consumption will increase by 2.1 percent annually, a growth rate that is higher than for any other sector. The high energy consumption means that transportation accounts for nearly 30 percent of CO2 emission in OECD countries and is also one of the main sources of regional and local air pollution.
In this article, we analyze energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from passenger car transport using an energy chain analysis. The energy chain analysis consists of three parts: the net direct energy use, the energy required for vehicle propulsion; the gross direct chain, which includes the net direct energy consumption plus the energy required to produce it; and, finally, the indirect energy chain, which includes the energy consumption for production, maintenance and operation of infrastructure plus manufacturing of the vehicle itself. In addition to energy consumption, we also analyze emissions of greenhouse gases measured by CO2-equivalents. We look at the trade-offs between energy use and greenhouse gas emissions to see whether some drivetrains and fuels perform favourable on both indicators. Except for the case of electric cars, where hydropower is the only energy source in the Norwegian context, no single car scores favourably on both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.