The emission reduction potential of electric transport modes in Finland

Samppa Jenu (Corresponding Author), Stefan Baumeister, Jenni Pippuri-Mäkeläinen, Aino Manninen, Marko Paakkinen

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The transportation sector has become the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One solution to mitigate the impacts is a shift towards electric modes. Where previous studies have only focused on the replacement of individual modes, our study presents a more holistic approach by comparing land-based, water-based and airborne transportation modes. We study the GHG emission reduction potentials of electric cars, buses, trains, ferries and aircraft in comparison to existing modes on 34 routes within Finland and across the Baltic Sea to Sweden and Estonia. By comparing the GHG emissions in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-eq) per passenger kilometer for each mode, we also consider the emissions generated from battery production as well as the differences in the energy mix from electricity production of the three studied countries. In addition to CO2-eq emissions per passenger kilometer, we also take real door-to-door travel times into account. Our study found that electric transportation modes possess great potential for emissions reduction. Nevertheless, depending on the energy mix used for electricity production, the emissions of electric transportation modes can exceed those of existing modes significantly. In addition, the emissions generated by battery production can have a significant share of the total emissions and should therefore always be considered. Finally, while also taking into account the door-to-door travel times, our study identified the great potential of electric aircraft to provide a less carbon intensive transportation option paired with short travel times starting on routes beyond 300 km where no high-speed rail exists as well as on routes across the water.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104010
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • modal shift
  • electric transport modes
  • electric aviation
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • travel time


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