One in three major transport firms now align with Paris pledges, but sector must rev up climate ambition to match 2020 fast track


New research from $15 trillion-backed Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) analyses automotive, aviation and shipping sectors

(04 December, New York). Direct emissions from transport currently account for nearly one quarter of total energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide, but new investor research on 57 of the world’s largest transport companies finds that less than one fifth (19%)have emissions reduction plans in line with a path to keep global warming to 2°C or below.
The study was carried out for the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. It analyses the climate Management Quality and Carbon Performance of 57 of the world’s largest and highest-emitting public companies involved in automobile manufacturing, air transportation and international freight shipping.
Faith Ward, Co-chair TPI on behalf of the Environment Agency Pension Fund, part of the Brunel Pension Partnership said:

“From freight ships to Ferraris, it’s encouraging that most major transport companies have set a course for a low carbon future. But they are not going fast enough. The message for the world’s airline, automotive and shipping giants from both the UN climate talks and today’s TPI research is very clear: As the low carbon transition ratchets up in 2020 the transport sector risks being left behind. Among 22 large car makers, only two are on track to keep global warming to 2°C or below, so the rest must accelerate their climate action to meet the demands of climate-conscious investors.”

Adam Matthews, Co-Chair of TPI and Director of Ethics & Engagement at Church of England Pensions Board added:

“Investors will be troubled by stalled climate progress in aviation, and by the sector’s reliance on net emissions targets. The issue with these targets is that they obscure whether emission reductions plans will depend largely on offsetting rather than a shift to lower-carbon aviation operations. A dependence on offsetting is not a credible climate strategy given the urgency of making deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy.”

Key findings from the report include:


Auto manufacturers 



Professor Simon Dietz, Co-Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and lead author of the report said:

“Airlines’ offsetting plans are too opaque at present. The IEA has made it clear that airlines’ own operational emissions must fall in order to achieve climate targets, so reduction strategies that rely too heavily on offsetting are not credible. Airlines that set net emission reduction targets need to provide more information on how much their gross emissions will fall and how much will depend on offsets.”
Carola van Lamoen, Head Active Ownership, Robeco Asset Management said:

“Transport is a critical sector to decarbonize. TPI’s assessment finds that corporate boards in the transport sector are showing an increased level of awareness. But it is also clear that more decisive action is needed to align their long-term strategy to a low-carbon future. This is particularly the case for road transportation, where technical solutions are available, but only two out of 22 car manufacturers have aligned their strategies with a 2 degrees or below scenario. This exposes investors to significant financial risk, since regulators are increasingly adopting policies supporting the shift towards cleaner transportation. This research identifies areas where constructive investor engagement can strengthen companies’ commitments”.

Notes to editor

For more information or exclusive interviews with the TPI team please contact:
Eleanor Kilbride, ESG Communications | t: +44 (0)
7561 594157 | e:

The full transport sector analysis report is available on request

The TPI research studied the Management Quality and Carbon Performance of 22 automotive manufacturers, 22 airlines, and 13 shipping companies. All companies are publicly-listed and selected on the basis of market capitalisation. Management Quality covers companies’ governance of greenhouse gas emissions and the risks and opportunities arising from the low-carbon transition. Carbon Performance assessment involves quantitative benchmarking of companies’ emissions pathways against both the ambitions of and pledges to the 2015 UN Paris Agreement. Both of these assessments are based on company disclosures, derived from publicly available third-party websites. TPI cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of these sources.

* UNCTAD calculates that the carbon intensity of the largest containerships is less than half that of the smallest containerships. Some of the largest shipping companies are under private ownership and are therefore not included in TPI’s assessment. Note international marine freight transportation represents around 87% of total shipping emissions.

Management Quality data was collected between October 2018 and April 2019. Carbon Performance data was collected up until the 7th of November 2019.  Any changes in company practices since these dates are beyond the scope of this report. 

About TPI:
The Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) is a global initiative led by asset owners and supported by asset managers. Aimed at investors and free to use, it assesses companies’ preparedness for the transition to a low-carbon economy, supporting efforts to address climate change. It is backed by 50 asset owners with over $15 trillion of combined assets under management or assets under advice. More information: