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Sound and independent information
on the environment

Conclusions and future work

Conclusions and future work

Are we moving in the right direction?

Table 8 gives a qualitative evaluation of trends with respect to the integration objectives and quantifiable targets selected for each key indicator. The table shows that the environmental performance of the transport sector has generally been deteriorating in recent years. On the basis of current policies in place and in the pipeline, the situation is expected to continue to worsen up to 2010.

There has been some progress in implementing technical improvements such as less polluting vehicles and cleaner fuels, although the full scope of these improvements remains to be exploited. However although new engines are becoming more efficient and cleaner, cars are getting heavier and more powerful. Utilisation patterns also need to be improved, as occupancy rates are falling and load factors are often still low. Reversing these trends, for example by using pricing signals to change buying and driving behaviour and by improving freight logistics operations, is an important challenge for policy-makers.

Technical improvements are also rapidly being outweighed by growing transport volumes. In addition, the modal mix continues to deteriorate, with an overwhelming dominance of road and a rapid increase in aviation. Major efforts are needed to reverse these trends and reduce the coupling between transport demand and economic growth, using measures such as improved land-use planning and accessibility policies, fair and efficient pricing, and public education.

Some improved utilisation patterns are beginning to emerge, particularly at the local level, driven by environmental and socio-economic concerns. Examples include car-sharing schemes, public transport improvements and city networking (car-free and . sustainable. cities). However, this has as yet had little effect on overall transport demand or modal mix.

Access to work and basic services has increasingly become dependent on car transport, and many in the Community find access to basic services increasingly difficult . about 30 % of EU households are without a car. Journey lengths and frequencies have increased as a result of urban sprawl and inadequate coordination between transport and land-use planning.

Overall, the assessment suggests that increased policy impetus is needed to redress current trends and reduce the coupling between transport demand and economic growth. Although progress is being made in certain areas, EU transport policy has not yet managed to redefine targets and policies to integrate environmental considerations into transport policy. The Common Transport Policy provides some strategies which already include integration actions, for example fair and efficient pricing, revitalisation of rail, promotion of combined transport, and making best use of existing infrastructure. Implementation of these strategies, however, is facing many difficulties. In particular, the concepts of demand management, accessibility and eco-efficiency are not sufficiently reflected in EU transport policies. Specific objectives for the various policy measures would help to measure progress, but targets are still lacking in many policy areas. Several environmental targets, such as the Kyoto and other emission targets, have not been allocated to sectors, and transport objectives are seldom linked to quantitative targets.

National comparisons

Although this first TERM report focuses mainly on EU developments, it has also identified a number of common trends at the Member State level. For example, in most countries transport demand, consumption and emissions are increasing, the modal mix is increasingly biased towards road transport, and aviation is expanding rapidly, while the shares of more environment-friendly modes such as rail, inland waterways, cycling and walking are falling.

At the same time there are substantial differences in approach to delivering more environment-friendly transport systems. For example, Nordic countries make much greater use of taxes, other pricing mechanisms and land-use planning than countries in southern Europe. A few Member States have introduced environmental action plans for the transport sector and set national targets. Some have established conditions for carrying out SEAs (strategic impact assessments) which enable transport policies and plans to be evaluated in the light of targets.

An agenda for future work

The indicator assessment sheets outline the actions needed to tackle data and methodological problems. The TERM action plan aims to:

  • improve indicator scope and definition;
  • improve basic transport statistics and environmental and land cover data and information (all modes);
  • improve methods for country comparisons and provide geographic differentiation;
  • develop methods to evaluate the effectiveness of certain policy measures (e.g. forecasting);
  • track development in transport and environment targets;
  • extend TERM to EU accession countries;
  • enhance structures for networking and linking with research;
  • develop a broad dissemination strategy.

This will require a number of technical studies and focus reports, the scope and duration of which will depend on the subject matter.

Improve indicator scope and definition
TERM is conceived as an evolving endeavour, which can accommodate the changing needs of policy-makers. In particular, TERM will need to be closely matched to new transport/environment integration strategies developed at Community and national level. The TERM steering group will therefore have to ensure that the contents and scope of TERM reports are continuously revised, to provide effective feedback to policy-makers. A choice will have to be made between an indicator report that presents the same indicators each year, which would enable year-on-year progress to be readily assessed, and one that selects indicators each year, depending on their relevance for policy-makers and the strength of their message. There may be scope for some of each indicator report, or companion reports, to address key issues or sub-sectors (e.g. freight and the environment, aviation and the environment).

Improve basic transport statistics and environmental and land-use data and information (all modes)
The TERM indicator list is a long-term vision of an . ideal. list. In some cases, proxy indicators are still being used because of data limitations. TERM is intended to develop into a fully multi-modal assessment (including road, rail, aviation, inland waterways, short-sea shipping, cycling and walking). However, current data availability is strongly biased towards road transport, which is inevitably reflected in this report. The same bias applies to national information; furthermore, data and examples of good practice are often more complete and easier to find in the northern than in southern Member States. A key message from this report is therefore that substantial efforts have to be made to improve data availability and ensure regular updating. The Commission (and in particular Eurostat), EEA/EIONET and the Member States all have an important role to play in achieving the necessary data improvements.

Develop methods to evaluate the effectiveness of certain policy measures (e.g. forecasting)
This should in the longer term improve understanding of the causal links between the various driving forces of transport demand, show how these exert pressures and cause impacts on the environment and people, and assess the effectiveness of societal and policy responses that aim to limit or reduce these pressures and impacts. In the present report it has not been possible to evaluate the effectiveness of specific policy measures, partly because of the time lags between policy implementation and the detection of effects in indicators, and partly because EU statistical data cannot, by their nature, reflect the most recent developments. Such problems could partly be solved by the development of scenarios and forecasts. The effectiveness of certain policy measures will be studied in more detail in a number of TERM focus reports.

Improve methods for national comparisons
Important lessons can also be learnt by comparing national performance, as this could give useful information on the effectiveness of policy measures. TERM will be developed into a benchmarking tool for this purpose. This requires the development of better methods for national comparisons, and possibly a geographic differentiation of the indicators. This would allow the identification of transport and environment hotspots and sensitive areas, differentiation between urban and non-urban traffic, and better assessment of transit traffic.

Track developments in transport and environment targets
An important (policy) requirement for improving the indicator assessment (and country benchmarking) is the development of a consistent framework of transport and environment targets. Although various policy objectives for sustainable transport have been formulated, concrete (i.e. measurable) targets are lacking in most areas. The existing environmental targets (e.g. the Kyoto targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) do not have a sectoral breakdown. Targets related to the transport system itself, e.g. regarding the reduction of transport growth and the improvement of the modal balance, are lacking in most Member States and at Community level. The Transport Council has identified the formulation of (intermediate and long-term) targets as a prerequisite for the development of integration strategies. TERM will keep careful track of developments in this area.

Extend TERM to accession countries
The enlargement of the EU will not only have important transport implications, which will need to be monitored, but will also imply that accession countries will have to start developing integrated transport and environment strategies, in line with current EU policy. In the TERM feasibility study, the EEA has already identified some TERM-related reporting activities, notably in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The extension of TERM will require harmonised data-collection and reporting mechanisms in accession countries, close cooperation between EEA/ETCs, Eurostat, the PHARE programme, OECD, UNECE and others, and a network of contacts with organisations, institutions and government departments in central and eastern Europe.

Enhance structures for networking and linking with research
TERM should draw on the expertise available in Member States and in other international organisations. Care will be taken to streamline consultation with Member States and international organisations, and to ensure networking with the European . and wider . RTD community.

Develop a broad dissemination strategy
This should be based on consultation to identify the most appropriate dissemination routes for different interest groups. The profile of TERM can be raised by publicising future reports in a variety of sources including the web sites of the EEA, DG Transport, DG Environment, as well as in Eurostat, Europ News and the network of National Focal Points.

Clearly, all the proposed actions can only be set up gradually and require the identification of proper resources. Capacity building is necessary to ensure continuity over time. This applies to the Member States as well as to the EEA and Eurostat.

 

Table 8: Qualitative evaluation of key indicator trends

Integration question

Key indicators

Integration objectives

Evaluation of indicator trends

 

A

B

D

DK

E

F

FIN

GR

I

IRL

L

NL

P

S

UK

EU

1

Emissions of:

 

CO2

NMVOCs

NOx

Meet international emission-reduction targets

2

Passenger transport

De-link economic activity and passenger-transport demand

 

 

Improve shares of rail, public transport, walking, cycling

 

Freight transport

De-link economic activity and freight-transport demand

 

 

Improve shares of rail, inland waterways, short-sea shipping

3

Average journey length for work, shopping, education, leisure

Improve access to basic services by environment-friendly modes

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

4

Investments in transport infrastructure

Prioritise development of environment-friendly transport systems

5

Real changes in the price of transport

Promote rail and public transport through the price instrument

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

 

Degree of internalisation of external costs (1)

Full recovery of environmental and accident costs

6

Energy intensity

Reduce energy use per transport unit

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

7

Implementation of integrated transport strategies (1)

Integrate environment and safety concerns in transport strategies

positive trend (moving towards objective);

some positive development (but insufficient to meet objective);

unfavourable trend (large distance from objective);

? quantitative data not available or insufficient

(1) no time series available: evaluation reflects current situation, not a trend

This evaluation is mainly made on the basis of the indicator trends. As there is an inevitable time lag between policy development, implementation, and the appearance of effects in the indicator trends, a . negative. trend does not necessarily mean that no positive policy developments are taking place to change these parameters. Monitoring these key indicators is the first step towards managing current and future policy measures. For example, tracking user prices, as is done in the UK and Denmark, is essential to manage measures to promote fair and efficient pricing.


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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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