Personal tools


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Transport final energy consumption by mode / Transport final energy consumption by mode (TERM 001) - Assessment published Jan 2011

Transport final energy consumption by mode (TERM 001) - Assessment published Jan 2011

Indicator Assessment Created 15 Nov 2010 Published 10 Jan 2011 Last modified 05 Nov 2013, 10:31 AM
Topics: , ,

Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary topic)

Energy Energy

energy | transport indicators | transport
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 001
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Key policy question: Is the total energy consumption from transport growing?

Key messages

For the first time since 1990, annual transport energy consumption in the EEA member countries fell, by 0.8%.  This reflects the downturn in demand for transport caused by the early stages of the economic recession. Specifically, in 2008 annual declines in road, inland shipping and bunkering (sea) energy consumption outweighed increases in rail and aviation transport consumption. However, the fall does not change the long term picture which shows an increase of 36% between 1990 and 2008. Road transport, responsible for 71 % of transport energy consumption, remains the largest consumer. 

Transport final energy consumption by mode

Note: The total energy consumption in transport in Mtoe from 1990 onwards. Transport modes included are bunkers (sea), air transport (domestic and international), inland navigation, rail transport and road transport (split by passenger and freight).

Data source:

Eurostat, Supply, transformation, consumption - all products, 
Eurostat, Supply, transformation, consumption - solid fuels,
Eurostat, Supply, transformation, consumption - oil,
Eurostat, Supply, transformation, consumption – gas,
Eurostat, Supply, transformation, consumption – Electricity,
Eurostat, Supply, transformation, consumption – renewable(biofuels),

[data accessed 1 September 2010]

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Between 1990 and 2008, energy consumption from transport grew by over a third. Whilst there have been improvements in energy efficiency - for example, the average energy efficiency of passenger cars improved by 1.7% between 2006 and 2007 (Transport and Environment, 2008) - such advancements have failed to offset growth in demand. The continued growth of road and air transport, which are comparatively energy intensive, has also contributed to the overall increase. However, in 2008 overall energy consumption from transport decreased for the first time in the period shown. This is largely due to a reduction in demand for transport, probably caused by the global economic recession. This decrease in energy consumption is unlikely to be sustained: the latest projections for the EU-27 predict that economic recovery will prompt a return to growth in transport energy consumption before 2015, with growth continuing until at least 2020 (albeit at a reduced rate, as policies designed to reduce transport energy use begin to take effect). Transport demand is expected to grow faster than energy consumption, in other words the energy intensity of transport will decrease (European Commission, 2010).

The EEA 32 countries[1] consumed approximately 458 Mtoe providing energy for transport in 2008. The vast majority, 83%, is consumed by the original 15 Member States, with 10% consumed by the new 12 Member States and the remainder by other EEA countries.

The 12 new EU Member States have collectively increased consumption by 64% since 1990; however this figure covers a more complicated picture. Many of the new member states saw a decline in the early nineties, reflecting the economic difficulties experienced in the transition to market economies and the general economic depression at that time. Iceland, Lithuania and Estonia actually ended up consuming less energy in 2008 than in 1990, meanwhile the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia recovered to more than double their energy consumption over the same period. Further, almost solely through increases in shipping activity (bunker fuels), Malta has nearly quadrupled its transport energy consumption.

Until falling 1.3% in 2008,  transport energy consumption of the 15 old EU Member States had grown steadily since 1990. This demonstrates the severity of the recession impacts, with 11 of the EU 15 experiencing a decline in transport energy demand in 2008. However, from a longer term perspective, average consumption for the EU-15 as a whole is now 32% higher than it was in 1990. Ireland and Luxembourg grew most dramatically, increasing in excess of 150% over the period. Spain and Portugal have increased consumption by nearly 90%, while Belgium and Austria are not too far behind.

Road transport energy consumption has increased in both the old and the new EU Member States, by 32% and 63% respectively. These figures suggest that modes which require longer-term planning and more dedicated infrastructure than road transport are less popular for supporting fast economic development. The lack of goods transport by sea may also be a result of their geographical location, with fewer major ports currently in the EU 12 than in the EU15.

Air transport shows the strongest growth in energy consumption of all modes over the last 18 years (87% in EEA member countries), linked to the strong increase in demand. However, the rate of increase fell notably between 2004 and 2006, and again between 2007 and 2008, suggesting the first year on year fall in energy consumption since 2001 could be imminent.

The low share of rail is partly due to a relatively small modal share, but also because in most situations rail transport is less energy-intensive than the main competitors. EEA wide, rail and inland navigation were the only two modes to increase their rates of change of energy consumption in 2008, in the midst of recession. This was caused by increases in the rates of change in both rail and inland navigation in the EU-15, outweighing decreasing rates of change in the EU-12.

The energy consumption from inland water transport for the whole of the EU remained more or less constant during the 1990s followed by a decline mainly due to the reduced importance of bulk industries, which dominated demand for inland shipping. However, recent years have seen a return to use of inland waterways, particularly in the EU-15, bringing 2008 energy consumption back up to just 7% below the 1990 level in the EEA member countries.

Road, air and sea travel (bunkering) all had declining rates of change in the most recent years as a result of the recession. Because these modes are the most prominent, overall transport energy consumption levelled off in the three years building up to the recession.

Across the EEA member countries energy consumption in maritime transport (i.e. ‘bunkers’) has grown by 51% since 1990, primarily used in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.

Besides the overall trend, there are considerable variations between countries, although road transport in nearly all cases dominates energy consumption. Differences are likely due to geographical and topographical constraints such as settlement and transport patterns, as well as economic development.

Additional policies that reduce the demand for transport, encourage modal shift towards more environmentally-friendly modes, improve transport management and enhance vehicles’ energy efficiency are required in order to meet targets set by the Kyoto protocol. Policies that focus only on the efficiency of vehicles will not be sufficient to overcome the dependency on road transport, as they may reduce the cost of transport movements, hence causing increased demand, via the so-called rebound effect (European Commission, 2009).

[1] Excluding Lichtenstein – no data available.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


EEA Management Plan

2010 2.9.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100