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You are here: Home / Media / News / Transport - bottom of the Kyoto class again

Transport - bottom of the Kyoto class again

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Greenhouse gas emissions from transport remain a key, but avoidable, obstacle to the EU reaching its Kyoto climate change targets, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report, released in Copenhagen today.

We cannot innovate our way out of the emissions problem from transport.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA

The EEA report, 'Transport and environment: on the way to a new common transport policy' says that European transport policy must deal with spiralling demand for transport. Between 1990 and 2003, passenger transport volumes in the EEA countries grew by 20 %. Air transport grew the most, 96 %, during this period.

While emissions from most other sectors (energy supply, industry, agriculture, waste management) dropped between 1990 and 2004, emissions from transport increased substantially driven by this increase in demand.

Transport is responsible for 21 % of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU-15 (excluding international aviation and maritime transport). Road transport contributes 93 % of the total of all transport emissions. However, emissions from international aviation are growing fastest with an increase of 86 % between 1990 and 2004.

GHG emissions (excluding marine and aviation) from transport grew the most in Luxembourg and Ireland between 1990 and 2004 with respective increases of 156 and 140 %. The average increase in the 32 EEA member countries (see notes) was 25 %.

'By suggesting that we simply deal with the environmental impacts of transport, the mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper on Transport could be interpreted as a softening of Europe's line on the need to deal with transport volumes. This cannot be the case,' said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.

'We cannot deal with the increasing GHG emissions, noise pollution and landscape fragmentation caused by transport without dealing with the increasing traffic across the spectrum: on our roads and railways, in the air and by sea. Technical advances, such as cleaner, more fuel-efficient engines are very important, but we cannot innovate our way out of the emissions problem from transport,' she said.

The report also highlights the significant role that transport subsidies play in terms of directing transport choices. Between 270 and 290 billion Euro is spent annually in Europe in transport subsidies. Almost half of these subsidies go to road transport, one of the least environmentally friendly modes. The EEA will release a detailed study of transport subsidies in March 2007.

Pollution from transport is also having a direct effect on our health.  Almost 25 % of the EU-25 population live less than 500 metres from a road carrying more than three million vehicles per year. Consequently, almost four million life-years are lost each year due to high pollution levels, the report says.

Notes to the editor:

Background on the report
The EEA report, 'Transport and Environment: on the way to a new common transport policy' 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. These are the 27 EU Member States, Turkey, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Switzerland only recently became a member of the EEA and provides data in some cases. Where data are not complete, this is generally noted in the metadata section, where different country groupings are also described.

Web Links: Term 2006 report

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, Slovakia, 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, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the 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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