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Policy makers must address transport demand in Europe

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Transport’s carbon footprint is a major obstacle to achieving a sustainable, low-carbon economy in Europe. A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) urges policy makers to take a fresh approach to address the spiralling growth of transport, supporting “realistic” measures that include pricing schemes for unsustainable mobility and improving citizens’ awareness about the environmental consequences of their shopping basket and travel choices.

Decisions made by business and individuals alike shape transport demand. ‘Beyond transport policy - exploring and managing the external drivers of transport demand’ compiles case studies from the agricultural, business, leisure and educational sector and provides possible responses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through more effective transport planning.

Europeans enjoy affordable and convenient access to an increased number of leisure and business destinations around the globe, says the report, but both work and holiday-related mobility is more and more dependant on air travel. Tourism strategies are favouring new forms of vacation such as “city breaks”, in addition to an increased flow of people flying to meet their families over holiday seasons. Parents choose to drive their children to school due to poor transport alternatives and fears over road safety, contributing to road congestion.

The EEA report brings out policy examples that can moderate transport demand and, in some cases, balance the negative effects of greater mobility for citizens and freight. Including aviation in the EU Emission Trading Scheme —as agreed recently by EU Member States— supports the goal of addressing increased demand for air transport by internalising its external costs.

Other findings include the following:

  • Policy makers should ensure citizens are well informed about the carbon footprint of their commuting and holiday travel
  • Labelling schemes for food should be improved, displaying the environmental effects of the chain from “farm to fork”.
  • Businesses are encouraged to switch to teleconferencing as an effective way to cut on both greenhouse gas emissions and travel costs.
  • Individual travel planning and better land and urban planning can be instrumental in decreasing travel distances —reducing distances between schools and residential areas.

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