Energy and carbon footprint from transport

The "Energy and carbon footprint from transport" fact sheet examines the energy intensity in the transport sector, as well as the corresponding share of renewable energy used. It also presents the values of greenhouse gas emissions from transport.


In Portugal, transport represents a major proportion of the final energy consumption, and road transport is the major responsible. It is also noted that land transport is the main responsible for the consumption of petroleum products for energetic purposes, contributing in a decisive way to the country's external energy dependence.

To reduce this dependence on external sources, it is important to reduce, at the national level, the use of road vehicles by fostering the use of both public transport and soft mobility, in order to increase the sector's energy efficiency. But it is also important to promote the adoption of more efficient vehicles and the use of alternative fuels with better environmental performance. In this context, we highlight vehicles powered by natural gas and electric vehicles.

As a result of the type of energy used, the transport sector is also responsible for a large share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, exerting strong pressures on the environment and human well-being.

This fact sheet concerns mainland Portugal and the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and Azores and shall be updated on an annual basis.

Objectives and targets: 
  • Decree-Law n.º 141/2010 (as amended by Decree-Law n.º 39/2013 which partially transposed Diretive 2009/28/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council) sets the target of achieving a 10% share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption, in the transport sector, by 2020;
  • Decree-Law n.º 117/2010 sets the limits for the compulsory incorporation of biofuels. It sets out the requirement for incorporating 5.5% of biofuels to replace diesel in final energy consumption, in land transport, in 2014. The requirement for incorporating biofuels to replace gasoline is compulsory from 2015 onwards and corresponds to an energy content of 2.5%; 
  • The National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency sets a target of 8.2% for the overall energy savings by 2016, anticipating that 23% of the achieved savings will be gained in the transport sector;
  • The Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality sets out to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Progress analysis:

The transport sector is still one of the activity sectors with the highest energy consumption: 37.2% of the total primary energy consumption in 2017, followed by the industry sector (28.8%), the household sector (16.4%), the service sector (12.2%), the agriculture and fisheries sector (2.9%), and the construction and public works sector (2.5%).

On the other hand, the sector is still highly dependent on petroleum-based fuels and, therefore, particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in the international oil prices. In 2016, 75.5% of the final consumption of oil occurred in the transport sector. In that year, the consumption of diesel in this sector was 4,307 ktoe, representing 88% of diesel total consumption, and the consumption of gasoline approximately 1,106 ktoe. 

In 2017, the fuel consumption of road transport reached 5.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe), 1.2% more than in 2016. Diesel, the main fuel consumed (79.0%), increased by 2.3% in 2017, unlike gasoline which decreased by 2.9%. 

In the same year, the electricity consumption of heavy rail transport increased 3.9%, reaching 307.5 million kWh. By contrast, diesel consumption, recorded at 16.8 million litres, showed a decrease of 2.0%, and for light rail transport, only Metro Sul do Tejo showed a reduction in electricity consumption (-0.5%), while all the other metro systems witnessed increases (+4.8% in Lisbon and +0.6% in Metro do Porto). The increase observed in the Lisbon metro was the result of an increase in the use of energy for traction (+5.1%). In the case of Metro Sul do Tejo, the reduction in electricity consumption resulted from other purposes than transportation (-5.2%). 

In the same year, Portuguese airlines consumed a total of 1.26 million tonnes of fuel in aircraft operation, a figure that is 12.2% higher than the one recorded in 2016.

These data show a high dependence on fossil fuels. The efforts that are being made to reduce that dependence will have, in the long term, the beneficial effect of significantly reducing the emissions of air pollutants, namely the emissions of GHGs, a strategic objective laid down in a variety of policy instruments concerning this matter that are currently in force.

Last update: 
Monday, 1 April, 2019