Clean Up Transportation Systems in Latin America

A bus at Metro Indios Verdes terminal, Mexico City

Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil

Latin America is the most urbanized region in the world: 80 percent of people live in cities now and 90 percent are expected to do so by 2050. Unfortunately, the region’s transportation systems rely on dirty fossil fuels and are not planned to meet the needs of growing metropolitan areas. As a result, air pollution and its consequent health impacts will affect more and more people.

Fortunately, Latin America has become a hub for innovative solutions that reduce harmful pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Colombia and Mexico pioneered successful Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) systems that have spread throughout the world. Mexico City joined three European cities in banning all diesel vehicles by 2025. The subway system in Chile’s capital city, Santiago, will be 60 percent solar-powered by 2018. Many cities and countries have adopted clean fuel and vehicle standards, and some are planning to transition to electric vehicles. Yet much more needs to be done—and quickly—to help the region meet its international climate commitments and reduce the health and environmental costs of dirty transportation.

We’re committed to getting Latin America on the fast—and clean—track to its climate goals by cutting emissions of particulate matter, black carbon and greenhouse gases from transportation systems. With our partners, NRDC is calling for stringent vehicle efficiency and vehicle emissions standards for new vehicles. We also advocate for cleaning up diesel fuels—a major source of particulate matter—with ultra-low sulfur fuel standards. We encourage complementary programs to reduce in-use emissions from existing vehicle fleets as well as strong green freight programs to focus on heavy-duty vehicles. We are also exploring how the Latin America’s transition to electrified vehicle fleets could be most efficiently and beneficially integrated into power grids.  

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