International Energy Agency calls for investment in high-speed rail

18 June, 2020

In a report published today, the IEA says that the world has only 6 months to change course with the climate crisis. The stimulus packages being created this year to address the economic downturn from Covi-19 risk a sharp up-turn in emissions unless policies are well-directed.

A ‘sustainable recovery plan’ would however create 9m new green jobs each year, according to the IEA. Measures taken in the long-distance transport sector could contribute 0.65m of these new jobs annually.

As the IEA report notes:

“Some governments have started to support the aviation sector by providing financial relief packages to try to limit job losses: a co-ordinated approach would also consider investment into alternatives modes of transport such as high-speed rail (HSR).”

There are around 60 000 km of HSR in operation today, and around 32 000 km HSR lines are under construction or planned around the world.

“Accelerating plans for new HSR lines would spur new employment and could, if well prepared and executed, provide long-term economic and environmental benefits.”

Previous IEA reports have shown that around 10% of flights in Europe could be displaced by high-speed rail. This shift brings an environmental dividend. According to the new IEA report:

“An estimated 18 grammes of CO2-eq would be saved for every passenger kilometre travelled by high-speed rail rather than by air. High-speed rail, on average, is at least 12-times more energy efficient than air and road travel per passenger kilometre.”

Greengauge 21 Director Jim Steer adds:

“High-speed rail must be part of the national economic recovery plan and part of the country’s own ‘Green Deal’ given the opportunity that the IEA report emphasises to cut carbon emissions.”

You can read the report here.