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Transport final energy consumption by mode

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 10 Dec 2008 Published 21 Apr 2009 Last modified 11 Sep 2015, 12:41 PM
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This content has been archived on 12 Dec 2014, reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/transport-final-energy-consumption-by-mode/assessment-4 was published)
Indicator codes: TERM 001

Key messages

Transport energy consumption in the EEA member countries increased by 33 % between 1990 and 2006 (from 336 to 446 of Mtoe). Road transport, consuming around 71 % of transport energy consumption (319 Mtoe in 2006), is the largest consumer. While the energy consumed by rail has remained fairly constant. Aviation is the fastest growing energy consumer, with an increase of 73 % between 1990 and 2006 (from 31.4 to 54.5 of Mtoe). The continued transport growth in energy consumption threatens compliance with the Kyoto targets.

Is the total energy consumption from transport growing?

TERM01 Transport final energy consumption by mode

Note: No data for Switzerland and Lichtenstein

Data source:


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Transport energy consumption in the EEA member countries increased by 33 % between 1990 and 2006 (from 336 to 446 million tonnes oil equivalents (Mtoe)). Transport energy consumption in EEA member countries has grown by 2 % per year during the 1990-2006 period. All regions have shown a growth in transport energy consumption for the period 1990 - 2006. EEA member countries witnessed an increase in growth of 2.1 % per yea (between 1990 and 2006). The largest growth is in the 12 new Member States at 2.6 % whereas the 15 old Member states saw an increase in growth of 2 %.

There have been improvements in energy efficiency, such as for passenger cars, where new vehicles have increased energy efficiency by 1.5 % per year since 1995, but they have fallen far short of offsetting the growth in transport demand. Moreover, the continuing shift of transport demand towards more energy intensive road and air modes have also contributed to the increase. The growth in energy consumption in the transport sector is projected to continue at an average of 1 % a year in the EU-25 from 2000-2030 if no further policy measures are taken. However, transport demand is projected to grow faster. The energy intensity of transport is thus expected to decrease by 0.8 % per year for passenger transport and by 0.38 % per year for freight transport, in the period 2005 to 2030 (EC, 2008).

While the growth figures for the regions are roughly equal there are some noticeable variations. In the 15 old EU Member States transport energy consumption has grown steadily since 1990. However, many of the 12 new EU Member States have experienced a decline during nineties reflecting the transition to market economies. The total transport energy consumption in the 12 new EU Member States is still lower than in the 15 old EU Member States. Road transport energy consumption has increased in both the old and new EU Member States. In fact energy consumption from road transport has increased by 61 % from 1990-2006 in these 12 new states, with a 7 % increase between 2005 and 2006. The share of road transport in the 12 new EU Member States is higher, as a result of the small share of air and sea shipping in transport energy consumption.

Air transport market share shows the strongest growth in energy consumption of all modes over the last 16 years (74 % in EEA member countries), linked to the strong increase in demand. The low share of rail is partly due to its relatively small market share, but also because in most situations rail transport is less energy-intensive than other transport modes. The large decline in rail energy consumption in the 12 new EU Member States follows a decline in rail energy market share.

Across the EEA member countries energy consumption in maritime transport (i.e. bunkers) has grown by 52% since 1990 (from 36 Mtoe to 55 Mtoe in 2006). However there has been a slight decline over the period in the consumption in the new member states.

Inland navigation includes water transport in coastal waters and on inland waterways and is only significant in countries with these geographical features, e.g. Germany, France and Finland. The energy consumption from inland transport remained more or less constant during the 1990s followed by a decline which is now reversing. Yet energy consumption remains 11% below the 1990 level in the EEA member countries, mainly due to the reduced importance of bulk industries, which dominates demand for inland shipping.

Besides this overall common development, there is considerable variation among countries, although road in nearly all cases dominates transport energy consumption. Differences are mainly due to geographical and topographical constraints such as settlement and transport patterns, and to a limited extent by political choices.

Additional policies that reduce the demand for transport, encourage modal shift towards more environmentally-friendly modes, improve transport management and enhance vehicle's energy efficiency are required in order to reduce CO2 emissions from transport. 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.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

The total energy consumption in transport in Petajoule (PJ) from 1990 onwards. Transport modes included are bunkers (sea), air transport (domestic and international), inland navigation, rail transport and road transport.


Petajoule (1 PJ = 1015 J)

Policy context and targets

Context description

Reduction in fuel consumption by the transport sector and/or of its impacts may be achieved through three primary means:

  • Avoid: reducing transport demand by limiting the number and length of trips;
  • Shift: shift to more fuel efficient transport modes;
  • Improve: increase the energy efficiency of vehicles and their energy sources; includes fuel switching – i.e. changing to renewable or low carbon fuels such as sustainable biofuels or using renewable generation technologies for electric/fuel cell vehicles.

Although climate policy and the Kyoto protocol are important drivers in reducing fossil fuel consumption (and air quality policy to a lesser extent), this indicator is primarily concerned with energy policy. Other related issues are addressed in TERM002 (Transport Emissions of Greenhouse Gases), TERM003 (Transport Emissions of Air Pollutants) and TERM031 (Uptake of Cleaner and Alternative Fuels).


The EU has set itself a target of reducing GHG emissions by 30% in the context of a global agreement and a 20% reduction unilaterally by 2020 (from 1990 levels). The EU’s Roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy in 2050 calls for a GHG reduction of 80% by 2050 as a global action to prevent climate change (Decision No 406/2009/EC). 

If the 2030 policy framework, proposed in January 2014, is accepted later this year, these targets will be built upon, with additional targets of reducing GHG emissions by 40% by 2030, and increasing the renewable energy share by at least 27% by 2030. Improvements to energy efficiency are still encouraged (from the “20-20-20” target of increasing energy efficiency by 20% by 2020) but no new target has been proposed (EC, 2014a).

Two key documents published by the European Commission in 2011 outline possible strategies for the transport sector, compatible with the 2050 target. These are the ‘Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (EC, 2011a) and the third decennial transport White Paper, ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (EC, 2011b).

The impact assessment which accompanied the 2011 Transport White Paper (EC, 2011a) suggests that a 70% reduction of transport oil consumption from 2008 levels should be achieved by 2050.

Related policy documents

  • 406/2009/EC
    Decision on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community's greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2030
  • 2009/29/ec
    Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community.
  • COM (2008) 11
    First assessment of national energy efficiency plans as required by Directive 2006/32/EC on energy end-use efficiency and energy services – Moving towards together on energy efficiency
  • COM (2011) 112 - A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050
    With its "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050" the European Commission is looking beyond these 2020 objectives and setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95% by mid-century as agreed by European Heads of State and governments. It shows how the sectors responsible for Europe's emissions - power generation, industry, transport, buildings and construction, as well as agriculture - can make the transition to a low-carbon economy over the coming decades.
  • COM(2005) 265 final. Green paper on energy efficiency or doing more with less. European Commission.
  • COM(2006) 545
    Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
  • COM(2007) 19
    Results of the review of the Community Strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles.
  • COM(2010) 2020 final, Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
    European Commission, 2010. Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. COM(2010) 2020 final. 
  • COM(2011) 21
    A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy
  • COM(2011) 144 Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system
  • COM(2014) 15 final
    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions "A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030". 22 January 2014, COM(2014) 15 final; {SWD(2014) 15 final}, {SWD(2014) 16 final}.  This Communication p resents an integrated policy framework with binding EU-wide targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and the development of renewable energy sources and with objectives for energy efficiency improvements for the period up to 2030.
  • Decision No 406/2009/EC (Effort Sharing Decision)
    Decision No 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020
  • DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC
  • DIRECTIVE 2009/30/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2009/30/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and introducing a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the specification of fuel used by inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 93/12/EEC
  • Guidelines on financial incentives for clean and energy efficient vehicles
    Commission staff working document
    Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
  • REGULATION (EC) No 661/2009
    REGULATION (EC) No 661/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor
  • REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011
    REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles


Methodology for indicator calculation

Energy statistics for transport are collected from Member States and collated by Eurostat. To assess whether the total energy from consumption from transport is growing, time series data for energy consumed was obtained from Eurostat. Data for various fuels was downloaded for ‘bunkers’ (sea), air (domestic and international), inland navigation, road transport and rail transport. Data for bunkers covers the quantities of fuel delivered to sea going vessels of all countries. Data for inland and coastal water is not included in bunkers (sea). Data for air covers quantities of fuel consumed in national and international air traffic. Energy consumed by electric and diesel trains is included within the rail data. 

Since Eurostat data is being used to process statistics, the Eurostat methodology is to be referred to for data collection and specification (see Eurostat, ITF and UNECE, 2009).

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap-filling is applied for this indicator.

Methodology references


Methodology uncertainty

Data trends within the individual countries are difficult to ascertain as energy consumption data often shows unexpected volatility from year to year. Energy consumption is calculated based on fuel sales, and reported on through a common questionnaire.

Data sets uncertainty

National data varies significantly from country to country and depending on the fuel type and production/consumption sector. The most reliable data comes from the EU-15 old Member States. However, data is lacking for oil pipelines for the majority of countries, making it less reliable. Occasionally, data used in older time-series may change due to revisions in the methodology used. Such changes have resulted in small alterations of a few percent.

For the EU-13 the data are generally much less reliable. Gaps are frequent, as are conspicuous jumps in consumption (e.g. doubling or more).

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Data sources

Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary topic)

Energy Energy

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

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Diana Vedlugaite


EEA Management Plan

2009 2.10.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

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