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Transport final energy consumption by mode (TERM 001) - Assessment published Jan 2013

Indicator Assessment Created 22 Nov 2012 Published 24 Jan 2013 Last modified 05 Nov 2013, 02:10 PM
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Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary topic)

Energy Energy

energy | fuels | energy consumption | 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, EU32, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norge, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Schweiz, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

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

Key messages

Between 1990 and 2007, annual transport energy consumption in the EU-27 showed continual growth. However, this trend reversed in 2008 as the effects of the economic recession brought about three years of negative growth. Between 2007 and 2009, total energy demand in the transport sector declined by 4.2%. The most recent published data for 2010 indicates a bottoming out of this recent decline with a drop in energy demand between 2009 and 2010 of just 0.3%. Preliminary estimates for 2011 hint on a return to growth in transport energy demand with a minor increase of 0.1% over 2011.

 Outside the EU‑27, over the last decade Switzerland's growth in road transport energy use has been below the EU‑27 average, while its rail energy use has increased compared to an average reduction across the EU‑27. By contrast, Norway and particularly Turkey have seen road transport energy use grow faster than the EU‑27 while Turkey's rail energy use has fallen substantially more than in EU‑27 Member States.

The shipping sector saw the greatest decline in energy consumption during the recession; bunkers dropped by 10 % in 2009 compared to 2007, reflecting weak consumer demand. However, this was also the first transport sector to see a return to growth; over 1% between 2009 and 2010. Combined energy use for aviation, rail and shipping has reduced by 5.2 % between 2007 and 2011. The greatest reduction was for domestic navigation (10.2 %), followed by aviation (5.7 %) and rail (5.3 %). Road transport represents the largest energy consumer, accounting for 72 % of total demand in 2011. It has also been the least affected by the economic downturn, falling by only 3.9 % between 2007 and 2011.

Transport energy consumption (EEA-32 excluding Iceland and Liechtenstein)

Note: Bar chart showing final energy consumption broken down by different fuel types. Orange line shows total energy consumption for oil derived fuels, dotted red line shows transport target on oil consumption that applies to EU27 (Transport White Paper, 2011).

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Final energy consumption by transport modes between 1990-2010 in EU27 (Mega tonnes of oil equivalent)

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). The most recent year is an extrapolation based on monthly fuel deliveries.

Data source:
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Key assessment

Energy consumption from transport has grown by over 30% since 1990. Energy efficiency has improved during this period – for example, the energy efficiency of the average new passenger car in Europe improved by over 20% in the past decade (EEA, 2012). However the effects of these efficiency improvements have been offset by an overall increase in transport demand. The effects of the recent economic recession brought about a marked decrease in overall energy consumption through 2008 to 2010. Records show that total transport energy consumption was nearly 4.5 % lower in 2010 compared to an overall peak in 2007. However, this slump is likely to be temporary, with estimates for 2011 seeing a 0.1% increase over 2010. Longer term projections for the region foresee that economic recovery will sustain renewed growth in transport energy consumption to at least 2020 (albeit at a lesser rate than in the previous decade, as policies designed to reduce transport energy use begin to take effect). Though this period, transport demand is expected to grow faster than energy consumption, in other words the energy intensity of transport will decrease.

The EEA 32 countries[1] consumed approximately 441 Mtoe providing energy for transport in 2010. The vast majority, 82.7 %, is consumed by the original 15 Member States, with 10.7 % consumed by the new 12 Member States and the remaining 6.6% by other EEA countries.

The 12 new EU Member States have collectively increased consumption by 68 % since 1990; despite many of these new member states initially recording a decline in the early nineties, reflecting the economic difficulties experienced in the transition to market economies. Only three Member States consumed less energy in 2010 compared to 1990: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Three have more than doubled their energy consumption over the same period: the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia. Malta has recorded a five-fold increase in its transport energy consumption almost solely through increases in shipping activity (bunker fuels).

Until the first effects of the recession appeared in 2008, transport energy consumption in the 15 original EU Member States had shown steady growth since 1990. In 2010, all of the EU-15 Member States experienced a continuation of the reduction in transport energy consumption compared to the peak in 2007. However, the decline between 2009 and 2010 was much less pronounced, signalling a bottoming out of the period of contraction. Italy, Spain and the UK have experienced the greatest absolute decrease through this period, primarily due to reductions in road transport. However, total energy consumption in the EU15 is still nearly 30% higher than it was in 1990.

Road transport energy consumption over the period has increased by 80 % in the new EU12 Member States and by 22 % in the original EU-15. 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 transported by sea in all EU-12 Member States (with the exception of Malta) may also be a result of their geographical location, with fewer major ports currently in the EU-12 than in the EU-15.

Aviation shows the strongest growth of all modes, increasing by 79 % since 1990. However, the sector also registered the largest fall in energy consumption (and the largest reduction in passenger demand) through the recession, showing a 7 % reduction compared to the previous year.

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. Of all the modes, only rail has lower energy consumption in 2010 compared to 1990. This reduction has been less pronounced in some countries, in part attributed to movements of national and international freight which are strongly linked with geographical location of countries. Countries registering the highest share of international transport are located in key corridors within the European market. In the Baltic States of Latvia and Estonia, situated at the border between Europe and Russia, international transport accounted for 91 % and 89 % respectively of the total transport in 2010. For those in the periphery such as the UK and Turkey, the share is much lower, 2 % and 9 % respectively (Eurostat 2012)

The energy consumption from inland water transport for the whole of the EU has remained fairly constant during the 1990s and 2000s. The sector experienced a resurgence in activity up until the recent recession, most notably in the EU-15, with energy consumption in 2007 up 12 % on the 1990 level in the EEA member countries.

Across the EEA member countries energy consumption in maritime transport (i.e. ‘bunkers’) has grown by 38 % 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 and the 2020 climate and energy package. 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 Liechtenstein and Iceland – 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

2012 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