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You are here: Home / Media / News / Europe needs to steer transport policy in the right direction

Europe needs to steer transport policy in the right direction

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Transport continues to contribute disproportionally to Europe's greenhouse gas emissions, poor air quality and noise; and still uses the least efficient modes to move people and goods.

We know the technology exists to tackle impacts of the transport sector on Europe's environment. However, many vehicles rolling off production lines are anything but green, the freight sector still favours the least efficient transport modes and railways across the EU still do not have a unified system.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director

The findings are set out in the report 'Transport at a crossroads', launched today at the European Parliament in Brussels by Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, "We know the technology exists to tackle impacts of the transport sector on Europe's environment. However, many vehicles rolling off production lines are anything but green, the freight sector still favours the least efficient transport modes and railways across the EU still do not have a unified system."

"At a time when we need to tackle our economic and environmental problems through sustainable and green solutions, trends in transport are pointing in the wrong direction; and will continue to contribute to air pollution, rising emissions of greenhouse gas and many negative environmental impacts." said Professor McGlade.

  • Emissions of GHG have increased by 26 % or 180 million tonnes, between 1990 and 2006, excluding international aviation and marine transport (EU-15). Representing a higher increase than the annual national emissions for 2006 from Belgium; 132 million tonnes, or Romania; 157million tonnes.(1)
  • Between 1996 and 2006 the total freight volume measured in tonne-kilometres for EU member states increased by 35 % or 650 M tonne-km, significantly more than the total freight transport of Germany. Rail freight and inland waterways saw a decline in market share
  • Between 1995 and 2006 car ownership levels in EU-27 increased by 22 %, or 52 Million cars. Representing an increase equivalent to the entire fleet of UK and Spain put together. The number of kilometres travelled by passengers in EEA member countries grew by 65million kilometres in 2006.
  • Air pollutants from vehicles are declining, but air quality is still a problem across Europe

Decoupling transport growth from economic growth

Well designed policies to manage demand for transport can reduce transport volumes. This would improve the transport efficiency of the economy and decouple transport growth from economic growth. The report also confirms that price signals play a major role in the choices made by consumers; with a 20% increase in demand for bus services related to a 10% increase in fuel prices.

"We still need clear, measurable, realistic and time related targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air emissions and noise from transport. Perhaps more critically, consumers have indicated through their reaction to volatile prices last year, that fuel and road pricing clearly has a role to play in tackling transport demand." says Professor McGlade.

Background on the report

The report 'Transport at a crossroads' 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. TERM reports have been published since 2000 and offer important insights that can help the development of EU policies. The report aims to cover all EEA member countries.

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.

For media enquiries please contact

Òscar Romero Sanchez

Press officer

Phone: +45 3336 7207

Mobile: +45 2368 3671

oscar.romero@eea.europa.eu

Gülçin Karadeniz

Press officer

Phone: +45 3336 7172

Mobile: +45 2368 3653 
gulcin.karadeniz@eea.europa.eu

(1) Annual emission for 2006 - EEA greenhouse gas data viewer

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