Energy efficiency and specific CO2 emissions

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-110-en
Also known as: TERM 027
Created 03 Nov 2015 Published 04 Jan 2017 Last modified 05 Jan 2017, 01:36 PM
Topics: ,
Specific CO 2 emissions from the road transport sector have decreased since 2000, mainly because of past improvements in the fuel efficiency of passenger cars. An EU regulation sets emission performance standards for new passenger cars,  which is expected to further reduce CO 2 emissions as a result of emission targets of 130 g/km and 95 g/km targets that it sets for 2015 and 2021, respectively. A separate regulation sets emission standards for light commercial vehicles (vans), with a 2017 target of 175 g CO 2 /km and 147 g CO 2 /km by 2020. Although decreasing, the CO 2 emissions from the air transport sector are still considerably higher than those from road transport, while rail remains the most energy efficient mode of passenger transport. The specific energy efficiency of light and heavy duty trucks has improved slightly since 2000, but road transport still consumes significantly more energy per tonne-kilometre (tkm) than rail or ship freight transport. CO 2 emissions from light commercial vehicles are also expected to decrease in view of the emission targets of 175 g/km and 147 g/km set for 2015 and 2020, respectively.

Key messages

  • Specific CO2 emissions from the road transport sector have decreased since 2000, mainly because of past improvements in the fuel efficiency of passenger cars. An EU regulation sets emission performance standards for new passenger cars,  which is expected to further reduce CO2 emissions as a result of emission targets of 130 g/km and 95 g/km targets that it sets for 2015 and 2021, respectively. A separate regulation sets emission standards for light commercial vehicles (vans), with a 2017 target of 175 g CO2/km and 147 g CO2/km by 2020.
  • Although decreasing, the CO2 emissions from the air transport sector are still considerably higher than those from road transport, while rail remains the most energy efficient mode of passenger transport.
  • The specific energy efficiency of light and heavy duty trucks has improved slightly since 2000, but road transport still consumes significantly more energy per tonne-kilometre (tkm) than rail or ship freight transport. CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles are also expected to decrease in view of the emission targets of 175 g/km and 147 g/km set for 2015 and 2020, respectively.

Are passenger and freight transport modes becoming more energy efficient?

Specific CO2 emissions per passenger-km and per mode of transport in Europe

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Specific CO2 emissions per tonne-km and per mode of transport in Europe

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Development of specific CO2 emissions from the road passenger and freight transport sectors in Europe

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Between 2000 and 2014, the specific CO2 emissions of the road transport sector decreased by 10.3 % for passenger transport and by 9 % for freight transport. The energy efficiency and CO2 per passenger-kilometre (pkm) of passenger cars improved by 10.4 % over the same period, somewhat as a result of an early (now discontinued) voluntary agreement made by the automotive manufacturing industries, but more significantly following the introduction of the EU regulation (No. 443/2009). The reductions in road freight transport are because of technical improvements in light- and heavy-duty trucks (mainly in engine efficiency) and the increased activity of heavy-duty trucks (i.e. higher load factors).

Between 2000 and 2014, the combined effect of improvements in aircraft technology and increased load factors resulted in an overall decrease in the specific CO2 emissions from the air passenger transport sector of 17.9 %. Transport volumes and total emissions reached a peak in 2002 and have decreased slightly since then.

Rail is by far the most energy efficient mode of passenger transport. The specific CO2 emissions from the rail transport sector have decreased by about 54 % from 2005 to 2014 for passenger transport and by about 27 % for freight transport, mainly because of a shift from diesel to electric trains.

Are passenger cars becoming more energy efficient?

Average carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

In the EU-28, CO2 emissions from the new passenger car fleet fell from 123.4 g to 119.5 g between 2014 and 2015, a decrease of 3.9 g CO2/km. The new passenger car fleet met the emission target of 130 g CO2/km set for 2015 two years early, but additional efforts are still required to meet the future target of 95 g CO2/km by 2020. The average mass of new passenger cars registered in the EU-28 has returned to 2010/2011 levels. The average mass of new cars sold in the EU (i.e. 1 381 kg) remained broadly the same in 2015 as in 2014. However, new cars are becoming more efficient;  the average car sold in 2015 was almost 15 % more efficient than the average car sold in 2010.

The average van registered in 2015 emitted 168.3 g CO2/km, 0.9 g less than in 2014. While the reported annual reduction is small, emissions are nevertheless well below the EU’s 2017 target of 175 g CO2/km. This target was already met in 2013. Vans are also becoming more efficient; the average van sold in 2015 was more than 6 % more efficient than the average van sold in 2012. Further efficiency improvements still need to be achieved to reach the EU’s more stringent target of 147 g CO2/km set for 2020.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

Specific CO2 emissions are defined as emissions of CO2 per transport unit (passenger-km or tonne-km), specified by mode (road, rail, inland, maritime, air).

CO2 emissions from new passengers cars are expressed in grams of CO2 per km (g CO2/km). The data, which are experimental, are measured in the vehicle type approval procedure.

Units

For passenger transport, specific CO2 emissions are expressed in g per passenger-kilometre (g/pkm).

For freight transport, specific CO2 emissions are expressed in g per tonne-kilometre (g/tkm).

For new passenger cars, tailpipe emissions are expressed in g per kilometre (g/km).


Policy context and targets

Context description

Since specific CO2 emissions are expressed per transport unit, occupancy rates and load factors have a considerable effect on specific emissions produced from passenger and freight transport respectively. Reductions of specific emissions can be achieved by increasing occupancy rates and load factors and/or by decreasing emissions per vehicle-km (e.g. by setting stricter emission standards and introducing more energy efficient technologies such as hybrid, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, etc).

Targets

There are no specific objectives or targets related to energy efficiency or specific CO2 emissions. Policy objectives are only set with respect to the CO2 emissions of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. Regulation No 443/2009 specifies that each vehicle manufacturer must achieve a fleet-average CO2 emission target of 130 g/km by 2015 for all new cars registered in the EU. In order to meet the CO2 emission target of 120 g/km, additional measures, such as the use of biofuels, aim to further reduce emissions by of 10 g/km. The Regulation also defines a long-term target of 95 g/km to be reached after 2020.

The Vans Regulation No 510/2011 specifies a fleet-average CO2 emission target of 175 g/km to be phased in between 2014 and 2017 for newly registered vans in the EU. A long-term target of 147 g/km is specified for 2020.

As an additional incentive for the introduction of more energy efficient technologies (hybrid, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, electric vehicles with a range extender), vehicles with CO2 emissions below 50 g/km receive super-credits. For passenger cars, each such vehicle is counted as 3.5 cars in 2012 and 2013, 2.5 cars in 2014, 1.5 cars in 2015 and 1 car from 2016 onwards. For vans, each vehicle with CO2 emissions below 50 g/km is counted as 3.5 cars in 2014 and 2015, 2.5 cars in 2016, 1.5 cars in 2017, and 1 car from 2018 onwards.

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

For passenger transport, specific emissions are calculated by dividing the CO2 emissions of each mode (i.e. road, rail, maritime and air transport) by the respective passenger-kilometres.

For freight transport, specific emissions are calculated by dividing the CO2 emissions of each mode (i.e. road, rail, inland shipping and maritime transport) by the respective tonne-kilometres.

For CO2 emissions from new passenger cars, data are compiled from DG-CLIMA monitoring 2000-2009, and from the EEA from 2010.

Methodology for gap filling

Passenger- and tonne-kilometres and CO2 emissions are modelled and therefore no gap filling is necessary.

Methodology references

  • EC4MACS model Key data of the EC4MACS transport scenarios: Key data / Transport activities / Vehicle fleet by vehicle category, 2000-2030

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

COPERT 4 is used for emissions calculations in EC4MACS. CO2 emissions are consistent with UNFCCC submissions.

Data sets uncertainty

Since the data on CO2 emissions, passenger-km and tonne-km are modelled rather than measured, the data must be treated as estimates. Data on CO2 emissions are less uncertain, as they are calibrated against statistical fuel consumption. Hence, the uncertainty of the passenger-km and tonne-km data characterises the overall uncertainty of the indicator. EC4MACS is not so accurate for calculating vehicle and tonne kilometres. This means that the overall uncertainty of passenger-km and tonne-km (as a modelled output) depends on the uncertainty of the underlying statistical data provided as input to the model. The latter may vary significantly among different countries, depending on the way data are collected and reported.

Rationale uncertainty

N/A

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Diana Vedlugaite

EEA Management Plan

2016 1.1.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100