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Since 1980 the real price of transport fuel (all transport fuels, expressed as the equivalent consumption in unleaded petrol, corrected for inflation to 2005 prices) has fluctuated between EUR 0.75 and 1.25 per litre, with an average of EUR 0.96. Real prices per litre peaked in July 2008 at around EUR 1.25, but then fell by around a third later that year, largely due to a significant drop in the price of crude oil. Another peak occurred in April 2012 when fuel prices reached EUR 1.24. Since then fuel prices have fallen again. The average real price in May 2013 was EUR 1.14 – still significantly above the long term average of EUR 0.96. The price of fuel is an important determinant of the demand for transport and the efficiency with which fuel is used. However, despite rising real prices over the last two decades transport demand increased.
All EU Member States are to achieve a 10 % share in renewable energy by 2020 for all transport options. Individual Member States progress towards this target varies. As a reference, the average share of renewable energy across the EU‑28 consumed in transport between 2010 and 2011 increased from 3.5 % to 3.8 %. These figures include only those biofuels which met the sustainability criteria.
In 2011 EUROSTAT has for the first time published the share of biofuels in transport energy use which meet the sustainability criteria of the Renewables Directive (Art. 17 & Art. 18, 2009/28/EC). The data shows that in 2011 3.8% of the energy consumed in transport was renewable, most of it from biofuels meeting the sustainability criteria. Most Member States require significant further increases in order to reach the Directive’s target for a 10% share of renewable energy in transport by 2020.
In 2011, the unweighted average EU-27 sulphur content was 5.7 ppm for petrol, and 7.0 ppm for diesel. An EU specification came into force on 1 January 2009, which limits the sulphur content of all automotive road fuels to a maximum of 10 ppm. Reductions in the sulphur content of fuels are expected to have a large impact on exhaust emissions as they will enable the introduction of more sophisticated after-treatment systems.
Between 2010 and 2011, freight transport volumes in the EU-28 (excl. Croatia) remained unchanged, approximately 8 % below the peak volumes experienced in 2007. However, the modal share changed slightly in favour of rail transport, the only mode to experience an increase in tkm between 2010 and 2011. Still, road transport dominates land freight transport at 76 %, followed by rail (18 %) and inland waterways (6 %). Fuel consumption data for 2012 suggests that overall freight transport volumes experienced another dip, falling back approximately to 2009 levels.
In the EU-13, land freight transport grew by 72 % between 2001 and 2011, with tkm more than doubling in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia between 2001 and 2011. In contrast, demand in the EU-15 was 2 % lower in 2011 than in 2001. Remarkably, land tkm per capita is now slightly greater in Poland than in Germany and tkm per capita for the EU-13 is greater than for the EU-15.
Land freight transport growth in the non-EU EEA Member States has been higher than the EU-28 average at 33 % compared to 11 % (2001-2011). In terms of modal split, Norway’s rail share is around the EU-28 average, while Turkey’s is significantly lower at around 5 %. However, rail freight in Turkey has increased considerably, by 51 % between 2001 and 2011. In Iceland, all freight transport is by road. By contrast, in Switzerland 54 % is by road compared to 46 % by rail.
Between 2010 and 2011, passenger transport demand in the EU-28 (without Croatia) increased by nearly 1 %, reaching a new all-time high, mainly attributed to a 10 % increase in aviation. Demand steadily increased between 1995 and 2009, but at a slower rate than GDP. The largest increases have been in air (66 %) and car (23 %) demand between 1995 and 2011. However, the economic recession led to a decline in 2009 and 2010 (0.1 %). The car dominates the land passenger transport share at 76 %, followed by air (9 %) bus and coach (8 %) and rail (6 %).
Croatia experienced a 16 % increase in land passenger transport over the period 2001 to 2011. Land passenger demand, for the non-EU EEA Member States, also showed high growth. In particular, Turkey and Iceland at 53 % and 21 % respectively, compared to 7 % for the EU-28. Regarding the modal split, Switzerland’s rail share has increased over the past decade, being around 18 % in 2011, by far the highest value within the EEA-33. Correspondingly, the share for car in Switzerland is below the EEA-33 average. Turkey has the highest modal share of bus and coach use within the EEA-33 although it declined from 60 % in 1995 to 44 % in 2011. Iceland and Norway have car shares well above the EEA-33 average at 89 % and 88 % respectively.
The latest EEA preliminary estimations shows that transport emissions, including aviation, fell by 2.3 % in 2012, following the reduction trend seen from 2008. In 2011, transport (including shipping and aviation) contributed 25 % of the total of GHG emissions in the EU-28. Emissions in 2011 were 25 % above 1990 levels, despite a decline between 2008 and 2011. Emissions will, therefore, need to fall by 68 % by 2050 in order to meet the Transport White Paper target. International aviation experienced the largest percentage increase in GHG emissions from 1990 levels (+ 94 %), followed by international shipping (+ 48 %).
Emissions from international shipping declined between 2008 and 2010. However, GHG emissions from international aviation rose by almost 3 % in 2011, breaking the reduction trend seen since 2008.
Outside the EU-28, transport emissions in Turkey, excluding bunkers, have increased substantially by 82 % since 1990. In Switzerland, transport emissions (excluding shipping) have increased by 18 %, slightly below the EU-28 average, while in Norway and Iceland, emissions increased by 40 % and 53 % respectively, which are well above the EU-28 average.
Between 1990 and 2007, annual transport energy consumption in the EEA member countries showed continual growth (38%). However, with the onset of the recession this trend reversed. Between 2007 and 2011, total energy demand in the transport sector declined by 6.5 %. The extrapolation for the year 2012 is based on the most recent estimates for a limited range of fuels. It suggests that the downward trend in transport energy consumption has continued through the year 2012 with a further 5% drop in energy consumption.
The shipping sector saw the greatest decline in energy consumption during the recession; bunkers dropped by 10 % between 2008 and 2009 alone. Energy use for aviation, rail transport and domestic navigation each fell by around 8% in 2011 compared to 2007. Road transport represents the largest energy consumer, accounting for 73 % of total demand in 2011. The road transport sector experienced a 5% drop in energy consumption between 2007 and 2011 – a slightly lower decline than the other sectors. However, despite recent changes, total transport energy consumption in 2011 was still almost 30% higher than in 1990. The amount of road diesel fuel compared to gasoline has also kept increasing and reached 70% in 2012.
Estimates based on the share of vehicles complying with the various legislation classes suggest that despite the strict emission limits imposed for new vehicles in Europe, a considerable fraction of the vehicle fleet is still of conventional (pre-Euro) technology.
The period of time needed for a new technology to penetrate the vehicle fleet in the EEA is quicker for diesel than for petrol cars.
The proportion of trucks, buses and coaches that comply with the latest and most stringent emission standards is lower than for cars, because of their longer lifetimes. On the other hand, the penetration of new technology is highest for two-wheelers.
Based on the activity level of the latest technologies, which is generally higher compared to the activity level of older vehicles, the emissions reductions achieved by the entire fleet are higher than the technology share may suggest.
Between 2009 and 2010, all air pollutant emissions from transport, except NOx, decreased (ranging between 2.5 % and 10 %). During the period 1990 to 2010, the main pollutants that contribute to acidification and particulate and ozone formation have shown a decreasing trend in emissions in the EEA‑32 (with fluctuations in some years). The largest percentage decreases over this period have been for CO (76 %) and non-methane volatile organic compound (NMVOC) (75 %). However, increases in shipping activity since 1990 have offset some of the reductions elsewhere, in particular for SOx, but also for NOx and PM. International shipping currently contributes to nearly 87 % of all transport SOx emissions. The rise of road freight transport explaines most of the increase in NOx in 2010.
Specific CO 2 emissions of road transport have decreased since 1995, mainly due to an improvement in the fuel efficiency of passenger car transport. Recent EU Regulation setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars is expected to further reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles in view of the 130 g/km and 95 g/km emission targets set for 2015 and 2020 respectively.
Specific CO 2 emissions of air transport, although decreasing, are of the same order of magnitude as for road, while rail and maritime shipping remain the most energy efficient modes of passenger transport.
Specific energy efficiency of light and heavy duty trucks has improved, but road transport still consumes significantly more energy per t-km than rail or ship freight transport. CO 2 emissions from light commercial vehicles are also expected to decrease in view of the 175 g/km and 147 g/km emission targets set for 2017 and 2020 respectively.
Spending on transport infrastructure has increased over the decade to 2008 for the 20 Member States included in the EEA-32 analysis, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of GDP. Road infrastructure continues to receive the majority of investment, and although other modes of transport (rail, sea and air) have increased their share of investment overall in the last decade, the most recent five years have seen a return to increasing proportions of investment in road infrastructure. The EU-12 Member States have seen proportionally much greater rises in the level of transport investment than the EU-15 Member States in all modes except sea transport infrastructure. Overall investment in transport infrastructure grew by almost 3% in 2007-2008 for the EEA-32 Member States included in the analysis, despite a general economic recession and reduction in transport activity in that year.
The data analysed from selected stations in major urban agglomerations indicate that during the period 1999-2008 mean values of NO 2 concentrations at road traffic stations remain relatively stable (trend is smaller than the statistical uncertainty on estimate). An increase is observed after 2003 in the maximum observed concentrations and although a slight reduction is observed in 2007, a further increase is noted in 2008. The background concentrations remain relatively stable throughout the period 1999-2008. For PM10, a slight increase was observed in 2003 in the maximum background concentrations, but these have followed a downward trend since. The trend in the maximum PM10 concentration at traffic stations varies during the period 2002-2008, with a downward trend observed between 2002-2004, an increase in 2006 and a downward trend thereafter. Throughout the period 2002-2007 mean traffic and mean background concentrations remain relatively stable, with a slight downward trend observed in recent years.
The specific emissions of air pollutants from passenger and freight
transport decreased during the time period 1995-2009 for the majority of
transport modes and especially for passenger transport. The highest reduction
of specific emissions can be observed in the road sector, following the implementation
of increasingly strict emission standards. Railway and aviation have also
recorded reductions, while maritime passenger and freight transport emissions
remained approximately constant over the same time period. Rail and water
transport are still relatively clean forms of transport - compared to road and
air transport - but without any regulations on their emissions, these modes might
lose this leading position.
level of car ownership is growing rapidly in the EEA-32 countries, especially in
countries with relatively low car ownership levels, like the new EU Member
States (EU-12). Increasing private vehicle ownership has proven to lead to
increased usage of private vehicles and might have the opposite effect on
public transport usage in the future. The number of buses-coaches per capita
has increased slightly in the period 1995 to 2009. The
number of trucks per unit of GDP (truck intensity) has remained constant over
the same period and is generally higher in the new EU Member States (EU-12)
than in the older ones (EU-15).
On average over the period 1998 to 2009, passenger transport prices have increased at a higher rate than consumer prices. However, in 1998, 2001 and now again in 2009, the relative volatility of the transport market has been highlighted, as overall transport prices fell at a faster rate than consumer prices. This is primarily due to significant drop in the average crude oil price between 2008 and 2009, which led to reductions in fuel prices. In particular, 2009 saw a decline in prices for air passenger transport and the operation of personal transport equipment, both of which increased in the previous year. In addition, the purchase price of motor cars continued the downward trend that has been consistent over the past decade. For freight transport prices, no EU-wide data exists, but as an example UK road freight prices have increased by a small amount over this period; transport of goods into the UK by sea have continually declined as economies of scale continue to take effect (larger ships travelling longer distances).
There has been some progress in restructuring transport charges towards better internalisation of external costs though this has been slow. Urban (congestion) charging schemes and distance related charging are expanding, and several countries have modified or introduced vehicle charges. Environmentally-weighted passenger vehicle related taxes are also growing in popularity (excluding petrol/diesel tax). Further, the Eurovignette directive - which aims to ensure road usage better reflects its true social impact by proposing a "user pays" and a "polluter pays" principle for heavy lorries in Europe - was sent to parliament on 15th October 2010.
The differentiation of user charges has in the past been structured around air pollution in the road freight sector, noise in the aviation sector and CO2 emissions for passenger cars. However, there is a growing trend for CO2 based differentiation of user charge across all modes, such as aviation becoming included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and CO2 regulations (already in place for cars) are being planned for vans and are likely also for HGVs in the future.
Tax breaks for low-sulphur fuel are slowly disappearing as its use becomes more common and mandatory standards are imposed (for example <10ppm sulphur petrol and diesel road fuel has been mandatory since 2009) under the amended Fuel Quality Directive (98/70/EC). At the same time reduced excise on biofuel, LPG, CDG and ethanol is being more widely applied in Europe. Many countries have already adopted regulations for reduced car sales duties and road tax for electric vehicles, hybrids and hydrogen vehicles.
The average age of road vehicles has recorded small changes during the period from 1995 to 2009. The
average age of passenger cars, two-wheelers, buses and coaches slightly
decreased, while the average age of light and heavy-duty vehicles increased. The
registration of new vehicles has increased over the same period, suggesting
that the penetration rate of modern technologies is accelerating.
The share of household expenditure on transport has been broadly stable over time (when aggregated across countries and income bands). Data suggest that increased fuel prices have given rise to increased expenditure on operational costs, and decreased purchases of vehicles in recent years. High income groups and economically developed countries spend more on car purchase and transport than do low income groups and countries.
Transport activities give rise to environmental impacts, congestion and accidents. The internalisation of external costs is necessary to ensure that transport users bare the full cost of transport, so that there is more efficient use of infrastructure, the fairness between transport users is improved and that the negative side effects of transport are reduced. This will encourage users to change their behaviour in order to reduce those costs.
According to available estimates - which refer to road transport - the most common external costs reach 2.6% of GDP. These costs are generically paid by all citizens, thus not in ways that are related to the externalities (UNITE, 2000).
The EU impact assessment on the externalisation reports that if no action is taken within the next few years the environmental costs (air pollution, CO2 emissions) could reach €210 billion by 2020 COM(2008)435
For countries where data is available (Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK), load factors have generally declined for road freight transport (Figure 1). Load factors are generally under 50 % (by weight). However some freight transport companies achieve much higher load factors than others in the same sector. This suggests that load factors can be improved. Road freight empty running (Figure 2) shows increases and decreases across different countries, although it is important to note that the response rate for the two variables is different (fewer and/or different countries have reported empty running). If load factors were increased, freight traffic volumes could be considerably reduced. Rail freight load factors (Figure 3) have remained fairly constant across the last few years, with only small increases and decreases observed for individual countries. There is limited data available for shipping freight, and this shows increasing load factors for the Czech Republic and Lithuania, and slight decreases for Hungary and Poland (Figure 4).
During the last decade, the total length of Europe's motorway network, High Speed Rail (HSR) network, inland waterways and pipelines have increased. However, the total length of the conventional rail network has decreased. While infrastructure length is only a proxy measure for capacity, the steady increase in the length of the motorway infrastructure between 1990 and 2008 suggests that road capacity has expanded to the detriment of conventional rail. The data may not show the full extent of the divergence as motorway length may have increased even more than noted since additional lanes are not counted in the statistics (see the Definitions Section) and the rail network may have decreased further through reducing double track to single or reducing signalling spacing, which statistics do not show. The data shows that the negative effect is bigger for the new Member States (EU-12) than for the EU-15 countries. For example, the length of rail infrastructure, fell much more in the EU-12 than in the EU-15 during this time period. Increasing infrastructure capacity is not always necessary. Optimization of the capacity of the existing infrastructure through interconnectivity, interoperability, intermodality and road pricing still has lots of potential throughout Europe. The application of these principles might be more beneficial to society and definitely to the environment than the construction of new infrastructure when capacity and congestion problems arise.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
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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