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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.
Between 1990 and 2007, annual transport energy consumption in the EU-27 showed continual growth. However, this trend reversed in 2008 as the effects of the economic recession brought about three years of negative growth. Between 2007 and 2009, total energy demand in the transport sector declined by 4.2%. The most recent published data for 2010 indicates a bottoming out of this recent decline with a drop in energy demand between 2009 and 2010 of just 0.3%. Preliminary estimates for 2011 hint on a return to growth in transport energy demand with a minor increase of 0.1% over 2011.
Outside the EU‑27, over the last decade Switzerland's growth in road transport energy use has been below the EU‑27 average, while its rail energy use has increased compared to an average reduction across the EU‑27. By contrast, Norway and particularly Turkey have seen road transport energy use grow faster than the EU‑27 while Turkey's rail energy use has fallen substantially more than in EU‑27 Member States.
The shipping sector saw the greatest decline in energy consumption during the recession; bunkers dropped by 10 % in 2009 compared to 2007, reflecting weak consumer demand. However, this was also the first transport sector to see a return to growth; over 1% between 2009 and 2010. Combined energy use for aviation, rail and shipping has reduced by 5.2 % between 2007 and 2011. The greatest reduction was for domestic navigation (10.2 %), followed by aviation (5.7 %) and rail (5.3 %). Road transport represents the largest energy consumer, accounting for 72 % of total demand in 2011. It has also been the least affected by the economic downturn, falling by only 3.9 % between 2007 and 2011.
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.
Over the past decade freight transport volume has grown
rapidly and has generally been coupled with growth in GDP. This is particularly
striking in recent years when there has been a surge in freight transport
activity. Consequently the objective of decoupling GDP and freight transport
growth has not been achieved. Closer inspection reveals large regional
differences, with the EU-12 Member States showing much faster growth since 2000
in the freight transport sector, compared to the EU-15. This is mainly a result
of these countries starting from a relatively low transport level and then
experiencing a shift towards high value production and service industries,
which has resulted in strong transport growth. For the first time in the 13
years displayed, freight transport demand in the EEA32 experienced a year-on-year
decline in 2008. This is in sharp contrast to the long-term trend; freight
transport demand has grown by over two-fifths since 1995, and by nearly
one-fifth in the period 2003-2008 alone. In 2008, decoupling between freight
transport volume and GDP was observed for the first time in five years.
However, this is likely to be due to the impact of the economic recession, and will
not necessarily continue in the future. Aside from this, the recent trend is
for positive coupling between GDP and freight transport demand. Within the
European Union, the EU-12 has experienced growth in freight demand over three
times that of the EU-15 in the period 1998-2008, and demand within the EU-12
continued to grow in 2008 despite the general downturn.
2007 and 2008 passenger transport demand in the EEA-32 declined, for the first
time in the 13 years displayed, most likely due to the impacts of the global
economic recession. However, this does little to change the long-term trend;
overall passenger transport demand has grown by over a fifth since 1995. There
is continued evidence to suggest a decoupling between passenger transport
demand and GDP in the EEA-32. However, latest estimates for air passenger
transport within the EU-27 indicate that demand has been growing at a much
faster rate than any other mode of passenger transport.
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.
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 0.75 and 1.25 Euros per litre, with an average of 0.94 Euros. Real prices per litre peaked in summer 2008 at around 1.25 Euros, but then fell by around a third later that year, largely due to a significant drop in the price of crude oil.. Since then, in 2009 and early 2010, real prices have recovered to just over one Euro per litre. The average real price in June 2010 was 1.04 Euros per litre, just 5% higher than the price in 1980, 0.99 Euros. As the price of fuel is an important determinant of the demand for transport and the efficiency with which fuel is used, it is clear that price is not currently countering the impact of growth on transport demand.
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.
In the EEA member
countries, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from transport (excluding
international air and maritime transport) increased by 25 % between 1990 and
2008. The EU-15 Member States make up 80 % of the total EEA area transport
emissions and they increased by 20 % in the same period. In the 3 EFTA
countries the emissions increased by 23 % while in the EU-12 Member States the
increase was 55 %. In the Candidate Countries (CC-2) the emissions increased by
For several of the EU-15
Member States and EFTA countries, rapidly rising GHG emissions from transport
are a serious concern for meeting the Kyoto
In the EU Member States,
domestic aviation was the fastest growing transport mode, while rail transport
was the fastest decreasing one. Also GHG emissions from international aviation
and navigation are increasing rapidly, but these emissions are, in accordance
with UNFCCC guidelines, not included in the GHG emission totals relevant for
In the EU-15 Member
States, the transport sector was responsible for 21 % of the total EU-15 GHG
emissions in 2008, while in the 12 new EU Member States the transport sector contributed
only by 13 % to the total EU-12 GHG emissions.
Many Member States
have introduced incentives to promote low and zero sulphur fuels towards the
objective of reducing the sulphur content of fuels to a maximum of 50 ppm by
2005 and to a maximum of 10 ppm by 2009. Although the target for 2005 has been
achieved, the penetration of zero sulphur fuels in view of the 2009 target is
still rather low. A reduction in the sulphur content of petrol and diesel fuels
is expected to have a large impact on exhaust emissions as it will enable the
introduction of more sophisticated after-treatment systems. The penetration of
biofuels is also low. The share of biofuels in the EU-27 in 2005 was about 1%,
i.e. half of the 2% target. However, this share has increased rapidly to 3.4%
in 2008, in view of the 5.75% objective for 2010.
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.
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