EU fails to curb emissions from transport: dramatic improvements and clear targets needed
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With passenger volumes steadily increasing and freight transport growing at a faster pace than the economy, the movement of goods is becoming less efficient, in spite of technological progress. The study Climate for a transport change urges policy-makers to set challenging, but realistic targets for this sector, while addressing transport demand 'in a serious and unbiased way'.
'I am convinced that we can limit the spiralling growth of emissions from the transport sector', says Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA. 'The unrestrained growth of transport activities creates too many side-effects which concern us all, such as noise and air pollution. It is also inflicting severe damage upon Europe’s biodiversity.'
'EU transport policy must act upon this growth of emissions', says Professor McGlade. 'If transport, and particularly road transport, had followed the trends of other economic sectors, we could have shown international leadership by having reached our greenhouse gas emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol several years ago.'
The report, presented today in Brussels to the European Parliaments’ Committee on Climate Change goes well beyond the provision of emissions data from the transport sector and urges integration of land use and transport in urban planning. Across the EU-15, cities account for roughly 80 % of traffic congestion costs, including loss of working hours.
'Transport has been a free-rider for too long when it comes to the fight against global warming and carbon emissions. Governments and citizens need to rethink radically their approach to transport policy — if nothing else, out of self-concern in protecting their health. We cannot continue to give privileges to less efficient transport modes', says Professor McGlade.
This EU-wide study reveals that voluntary commitments by car manufacturers to improve efficiency in vehicles have not resulted in sufficient gains. In addition, the occupancy rates of private vehicles have gradually been going down. Approximately 12 % of the overall EU emissions of CO2 come from fuel burnt by passenger cars.
International aviation and maritime transport activities are not included in the Kyoto protocol commitments, in part because of the difficulties to allocate emissions to a specific country.
Background on the report
The report 'Climate for a transport change' is the annual publication from the EEA's Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM), which monitors the progress and effectiveness of attempts to integrate transport and environment strategies.
The report aims to cover all EEA member countries.
EU-27: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
EEA member countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.
About the European Environment Agency (EEA)
The EEA is based in Copenhagen. The agency aims to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy makers and the public.
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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