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Transport emissions of greenhouse gases

Contents
 

Justification for indicator selection

This indicator analyses the trend in transport GHG emissions from 1990 to 2008 excluding emissions from international aviation and maritime transport (not included in the Kyoto Protocol). Therefore, in this fact sheet, all transport related GHG emissions exclude emissions from international aviation and maritime transport. The indicator is aimed to evaluate the trend in transport GHG emissions in the EEA area as well as to analyse the relative importance of different GHGs and contribution from each mode of transport.

Scientific references:

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

Total Greenhouse Gas emissions, CO2, CH4 and N2O from transport, are analysed in this indicator. Total transport emissions can be split into road transport, rail transport, navigation, domestic aviation and other transport. All transport related GHG emissions exclude emissions from international aviation and maritime transport (not included in the Kyoto Protocol).

Units

The data has been weighted according to the following global warming potentials (GWP) for each GHG: CO2 = 1, CH4=21, N2O =310 to give total GHG emissions in Mt CO2 equivalent. N2O emissions are expressed in Gg.

Policy context and targets

Context description

There are no specific reduction targets for the transport sector foreseen under the Kyoto Protocol. However, there are several European policies and strategies (see below) aiming at the reduction of GHG emissions from transport. From 1 January 2012, air transport will be included in the EU ETS.

Targets

The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on February 16th, 2005. Individual targets for 2008-2012 have been set for the EEA member countries. In addition to these targets, the 15 old EU Member States have a common target of 8 % reduction over the base year levels for the six GHGs not controlled by the Montreal protocol. There is no target set for Malta, Cyprus and Turkey.

In October 2005, the Commission launched ECCP (European Climate Change Programme) II, focussed on reviewing the ECCP I and on exploring new policy areas. Specific areas for which additional emission reductions measures for 2008–2012 are being developed include aviation, and CO2 and cars. Most Common and Coordinated Policies and Measures (CCPM) target the energy and transport sectors where GHG reduction potentials are significant.

The EU's '20-20-20 by 2020' Energy and Climate Package sets overall reduction targets for greenhouse gases and highlights the need for the transport sector to contribute actively to achieving them. For the sectors outside the EU-ETS (mainly residential, transport, agriculture and waste), a reduction of 10 % between 2005 and 2020 is proposed.

The Directive on environmental quality standards for fuel (2009/30/EC, part of the climate and energy package) introduces for the first time a reduction target for GHG emissions from fuels. By 2020, fuel suppliers have to decrease by 6 % climate harming emissions over the entire life cycle of their products. This can be reached in particular by admixing biofuels to petrol and diesel as well as by improving production technology in refineries. Member states may require an additional 4 % reduction from fuel companies, achieved through the supply of energy for electric vehicles or other clean technologies, including carbon credits from third countries (CDM). The directive also lays down stringent environmental and social sustainability criteria for biofuels, which correspond to those in the directive on the promotion of energy from renewable sources (3736/08).

The regulation for CO2 emissions from passenger cars (443/2009/EC) will give legal effect to the EU's existing goal of reducing average emissions from new cars to 120 g CO2 / km, as the so far voluntary agreements by car manufacturers failed. This is to be achieved in two ways: A reduction to 130 g CO2 / km through engine technology plus an additional cut of 10 g CO2 / km through more efficient vehicle features, for instance air-conditioning systems or tyres. The new regulation makes these objectives binding for the average fleet of a given car manufacturer in successive stages.

With regard to freight transport, the "Eurovignette" Directive (COM (2008) 436 final, amending Directive 1999/62/EC), aims at the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures. It reflects the need to internalise external costs (traffic-based air pollution, traffic-based noise pollution, and congestion) in road freight transport in harmony with the "polluter pays" principle.The proposal’s major outstanding issues, however, have been, in particular, the scope, legal basis, congestion as a chargeable external cost, earmarking on charges and the methods of calculating external costs. On 15 October, the Transport Council reached a political agreement on the draft proposal that would allow Member States to charge lorries for the air pollution, noise and congestion they cause.

Three ´rail directives´ aim at encouraging a modal shift toward towards rail (Directive2007/58/EC, 2004/49/EC and 2004/50/EC). They address the liberalisation of international passenger services, rail safety and the harmonisation of rail interoperability requirements.

The Marco Polo Programme aims to shift freight transportation to modes with lower carbon intensities (short sea shipping, rail and inland waterway). The first stage is a funding programme for projects which shifts freight transport away from road. Continuing to work towards this aim, the second stage focuses on adding additional scope and finance to projects in additional countries.

The adoption of the new White Paper on Transport and the communication A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (EC, 2011a and EC, 2011b respectively) complement the EU’s 20/20/20 climate and energy targets for 2020, agreed by EU leaders in 2007 (EC, 2008b). The climate and energy package is a set of legislation adopted in April 2009 that followed these agreements (EC, 2009d). It already included an overall reduction of GHG emissions by 20 % in 2020 from 1990 levels, an increase in the share of renewables in overall energy consumption to 20 % (10 % of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020), an energy efficiency improvement of 20 % compared to existing trends, and a legal framework to promote carbon capture and storage.

Resource efficiency is an overarching objective of the EU and a core part of the White Paper on Transport (EC, 2011a). The white paper sets, for the first time ever, a required reduction target for transport-related GHG emissions of 60 % by 2050 compared to their 1990 level. Establishing a precise target sends the clear message to all stakeholders that the reduction of GHG emissions is a clear priority alongside other aspirations. A significant reduction of GHG emissions in transport can lead to improvements in other areas, such as better air quality and lower noise levels, increased energy security, and lower impacts of the transport sector on biodiversity. In this sense, transport emissions of GHGs, along with energy consumption, can be seen as a proxy for resource efficiency in the transport sector until a more comprehensive indicator is developed.

Transport GHG emissions were defined in the Kyoto agreement as the emissions from the combustion and evaporation of fuel for all transport activity, regardless of the sector, but excluding international aviation and maritime transport (international bunker fuels).

International aviation emissions have recently been included in the ETS, to be made effective in 2012 (EC, 2008c). Aviation will therefore join most of the rail transport, as electrified rail traffic is indirectly included in the ETS through the power-generating sector. In addition, discussions on policy options which include the possible inclusion of shipping in the ETS are currently being held. The present framework for ETS stands until 2020, which means that some sub-sectors of transport face an overall cap with carbon price incentive at EU level, whereas other sub-sectors are subject to action at EU level (EC regulations 443/2009 and 510/2011 on CO2 emissions for cars and vans respectively are examples), and further action at a national level, as set out in the Effort Sharing Decision No 406/2009/EC (EC, 2009e). This decision requires a 10 % cut in EU GHG emissions from the non-ETS sectors over 2005 levels by 2020. International maritime emissions are not covered by either ETS or the decision, and therefore the white paper set a sub-sector–specific goal of 40 % reduction in international maritime emissions by 2050.

The white paper GHG emissions target for transport is subsequently defined as Kyoto plus international aviation (but excluding international maritime transport). Therefore, any GHG reductions from aviation as a result of its inclusion in the ETS would be incorporated in the broader 60 % reduction in transport. The general reduction target for transport (60 % including international aviation) has not been officially divided into different targets for each transport mode.

Related policy documents

  • COM(2011) 144 Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system
    PREPARING THE EUROPEAN TRANSPORT AREA FOR THE FUTURE
  • COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 166/2005
    COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 166/2005 of 31 January 2005 fixing the rates of the refunds applicable to certain cereal and rice products exported in the form of goods not covered by Annex I to the Treaty
  • DIRECTIVE 1999/62/EC
    DIRECTIVE 1999/62/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 17 June 1999 on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures
  • Directive 2003/30/EC, use of biofuels and renewable fuels
    Promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport. Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport.
  • DIRECTIVE 2004/49/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2004/49/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 29 April 2004 on safety on the Community’s railways and amending Council Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification
  • DIRECTIVE 2004/50/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2004/50/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 29 April 2004 amending Council Directive 96/48/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system and Directive 2001/16/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system
  • DIRECTIVE 2006/40/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2006/40/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 17 May 2006 relating to emissions from air-conditioning systems in motor vehicles and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC
  • DIRECTIVE 2007/58/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2007/58/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 October 2007 amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community’s railways and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure
  • DIRECTIVE 2008/101/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2008/101/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 19 November 2008 amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community
  • Greenhouse gas monitoring mechanism
    Decision No 280/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol
  • Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
    Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; adopted at COP3 in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997
  • Transport White paper 2011
    Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system

Key policy question

How did greenhouse gas emissions from transport evolve?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Annual official data submission by EU Member States to UNFCCC and EU Monitoring mechanism. Compilation of emission estimates by Member States is based on combining sectoral activity data, calorific values and carbon emission factors. Recommended methodologies for emission data estimation are compiled in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National GHG Inventories, supplemented by the ‘Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National GHG Inventories’  and UNFCCC Guidelines.

Methodology for gap filling

Where data is not available for EU Member States, the data gap filling procedure has been used as agreed under the Monitoring Mechanism (EEA, 2010).

Methodology references

  • IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories The IPCC Guidelines were first accepted in 1994 and published in 1995. UNFCCC COP3 held in 1997 in Kyoto reaffirmed that the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories should be used as "methodologies for estimating anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases" in calculation of legally-binding targets during the first commitment period
  • Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories This report on Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is the response to the request from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to complete its work on uncertainty and prepare a report on good practice in inventory management
  • UNFCCC guidelines United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change   guidelines

Data specifications

EEA data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The IPCC (IPCC, 2000) suggests that the uncertainty in the total GWP-weighted emission estimates, for most European countries, is likely to be less than +/– 20 %. The IPCC believes that the uncertainty in CO2 emission estimates from fuel use in Europe is likely to be less than ± 5%. Total GHG emission trends are likely to be more accurate than the absolute emission estimates for individual years. The IPCC suggests that the uncertainty in total GHG emission trends is +/– 4 % to 5 %.

Data sets uncertainty

The results of the level uncertainty estimate suggest that uncertainties at EU-15 level are between 4.8 % and 10.2 % for total EU-15 GHG emissions. Transport related GHG emissions are estimated to have an uncertainty of 6 % (see EEA, 2010). For the new Member States and some other EEA countries, uncertainties are assumed to be higher than for the EU-15 Member States because of data gaps.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Work description

The EEA-32 countries should improve the completeness of the sectoral time series of their estimates (filling gaps). Further validation and checking is the responsibility of the country and needs especially to lead to improved detailed sectoral time series of emissions. There is also a need for further validation and checking within the framework of UNFCCC and EU Monitoring Mechanism, as recommended by the IPCC Good Practice Guide.

Resource needs

No resource needs have been specified

Status

Not started

Deadline

2011/12/31 18:00:00 GMT+1

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
TERM 002
Specification
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Transport Transport

Permalinks

Permalink to this version
f51d403f1fac3c5ecb91f9038a2ed7e6
Permalink to latest version
VIXZ479VEQ

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 1 year in October-December (Q4)

Classification

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

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