Embodied emissions and transport infrastructure

New research from DecarboN8 shows that transport’s carbon problem stems not only from tailpipe emissions but also from the construction, maintenance and operation of roads and railways themselves.

All transport infrastructure generates carbon emissions in its construction, maintenance and operation. This hidden carbon cost, known as embodied emissions, can be significant. This new policy briefing and technical reports quantify the embodied emissions involved in building and maintaining typical transport infrastructure. The research looked at real infrastructure proposals for North East England, selected with support from Transport for the North.

For more information about this research, please contact DecarboN8@leeds.ac.uk

Embodied Emissions Policy Briefing - cover

Policy Briefing

This policy briefing summarises the key findings from the two underlying technical reports and makes clear, actionable policy recommendations.

It addresses questions such as:

  • Can transport infrastructure emissions be eliminated using available materials and techniques?
  • Can operational improvements from road or rail building ‘pay back’ embodied emissions?
  • What are the implications for infrastructure investment programmes?

Technical Reports: Road and Rail

Measuring Road Infrastructure Carbon
Technical Report: Road

This report quantifies the embodied carbon in 1 km of road including lights, traffic lights, and standard maintenance. Sustainable alternative materials and the effects of a steadily decarbonising grid are also considered.

Measuring Rail Infrastructure Carbon - report cover
Technical Report: Rail

This report quantifies the embodied carbon in 1 km of railway track including switches, crossings, platforms, and standard maintenance. Sustainable alternative materials and the effects of a steadily decarbonising grid are also considered.

Watch recorded presentations from the launch event


Related content

Watch a short video based on the road report

DecarboN8 blog posts related to infrastructure emissions