Road To 1.5°C In Dubai — How Urban Mobility Can Help Cities Limit Climate Change

Oliver Wyman Report Charts Dubai's Roadmap For Sustainable Mobility

Dubai, November 15, 2023 — Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm and a business of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), has issued a report that highlights how 12 cities around the world, including Dubai, are reshaping urban mobility in a bid to limit climate change, while also addressing factors such as accessibility and affordability.

The report comes from the Oliver Wyman Forum — the management consultancy’s think tank — and is entitled “Road to 1.5oC: How Urban Mobility Can Help Cities Limit Climate Change.” Several hundred cities, including Dubai, have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to comply with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report evaluates how well these 12 cities are reducing pollution from transport, which accounts for about a third of their carbon footprint.

Dubai is Slowing Emissions Growth, Says the Report

The path to net zero varies greatly, but most cities will need to make dramatic changes to meet this goal. The report finds that Dubai will need to reduce emissions by 45% compared to 2022 to meet the 1.5°C target – in comparison to a 51% reduction needed in Berlin, 59% in Hong Kong, 30% in Lagos, 48% in New York, 63% in Singapore, and 58% in Los Angeles.

Dubai remains heavily dependent on cars for mobility, according to the report, with more than 80% of all passenger kilometers traveled by car in 2022. The Emirate has reached an 8% modal share for public transit, thanks to the expansion of its metro network in preparation for the city’s hosting of Expo 2020. The report also notes that due to the city’s likely growth, mobility demand is expected to increase by 27% by 2030, while its carbon emissions are forecasted to increase by 19%.

Public transit growth, together with significant electrification efforts based on green energy sourcing for both cars and buses, Dubai has slowed the rate at which its carbon footprint is growing, according to the Oliver Wyman Forum research. However, more work is needed to accelerate these trends and reduce car dependency in many cities around the world, including Dubai. To reach the 1.5oC goal, Dubai would need to reduce total mobility demand by 30% by 2030, the report found, or by approximately 11.3 kilometers per person, per day compared to 2022. Acknowledging the fact increased mobility is an important enabler of economic growth, the report highlights the need for more purposeful travel in people’s everyday lives.

“Every city is different, and so must tailor its approach to urban mobility optimization based on its distinctive infrastructure, geography, and demographics to achieve climate goals. Despite Dubai's challenging hot and humid climate, the city has made strides with the introduction of numerous cycling and bike-sharing initiatives in recent years,” said André Martins, Head of Transportation, Services, and Operations Practices at Oliver Wyman India, Middle East, and Africa.

He added: “Dubai also continues to move at pace with its sustainable mobility infrastructure development, aiming to expand to more than 420 kilometers and 197 stations its metro network, while simultaneously powering ahead with critical investment in electrical vehicle charging capacity that will enable EVs to become more fully integrated into the mobility mix.”

Impressive initiatives in Dubai include dynamic toll pricing, which combats congestion and encourages alternative modes of transport, and the fact the city recently completed construction of multiple pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure projects, such as the 475-meter-long pedestrian-and cyclist-only bridge over Ras Al Khor. But according to the Oliver Wyman report, the city’s efforts of introducing alternative sustainable mobility will need to continue.

Martins said that the global consultancy’s approach prioritizes not only sustainability, but controls for factors such as accessibility, affordability, investment costs, convenience, and efficiency, and makes use of sophisticated modelling to account for different scenarios. The new research from the Oliver Wyman Forum offers individualized solutions for major global cities to help them meet their climate targets with sustainable mobility. 

In the case of Dubai, Oliver Wyman Forum recommends solutions including investment in a low-carbon electrical grid, speeding up electrification of the car fleet, expansion of the metro network, and incentives to use public transit — all of which the city is currently implementing in various forms.

Read the full report, here.