Indicator Fact Sheet

Transport emissions of greenhouse gases by mode

Indicator Fact Sheet
Prod-ID: IND-111-en
  Also known as: TERM 002
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Assessment made on  01 Dec 2006

Generic metadata



DPSIR: Pressure


Indicator codes
  • TERM 002

Policy issue:  Meet the EU target under the Kyoto Protocol


Key assessment

The EU25 transport sector accounts for more than 30% of the total energy consumption in the Community4 and it is 98% dependent on fossil fuels. The growing transport sector is considered to be one of the main reasons for EU failing to meet Kyoto targets. GHG emissions from transport increased by 26.5 % between 1990 and 2004 in the EEA32 countries5. Emissions increased faster in the EU25 Member States than in the EFTA4 countries. For several EU15 Member States and EFTA4 countries rapidly rising GHG emissions from transport are a serious concern for meeting the Kyoto target.

In the EU15 GHG emissions from transport increased by 26 %; they contribute by 83 % to the total EEA32 transport emissions. The transport emissions increased due to continuous increases in road transport volume (both passenger and freight).

Figure 2 shows that between 1990 and 2004, GHG emissions from transport increased in all EU15 Member States. Germany and Finland limited their emission increases below 10 %. Spain, Austria and Portugal registered emission increases of more than 60 %. Ireland and Luxembourg more than doubled their emissions. The main reasons for the large increase in Ireland are growth in road transport volumes and "fuel tourism" (e.g. road fuels bought in Ireland, where fuel prices are relatively low, but consumed outside Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland). "Fuel tourism" due to comparatively low fuel prices is also an important reason in other EU15 Member States such as Austria and Luxembourg.

Explanations for the relatively small changes in emissions in Finland, Sweden and the UK may be high per capita GHG emissions from transport in 1990 and high and/or rapidly growing road fuel prices. For the cohesion countries (Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain), the opposite is true: low starting points in terms of per capita emissions and low road fuel prices. They have experienced strong growth in transport demand, particularly road, driven by economic growth, and have therefore also experienced large increases in GHG emissions.

In Germany, which is the largest emitter within EU15, GHG emissions from transport decreased between 1999 and 2003, but increased between 2003 and 2004 by 0.5 %. One reason for the overall decreasing effect might be the annual increases of road fuel taxes in the framework of the ecological tax reform, although evasive reactions to higher fuel prices may be more important than reduced road transport demand, as a recent study suggests (DIW, 2004).

The second largest group is the EU10, with a share of 8 % on total EEA32 transport emissions and an increase of 25 % between 1990 and 2004. There was a slow reduction in emissions until 1995. Since 1995, GHG emissions from transport have been rising again, with a small reduction in 2000. The main reason for the emission reductions in the first half of the decade, was the economic downturn after the fall of the iron curtain. In recent years emissions from transport increased mainly due to growing road transport demand which, at least partly, resulted from declining rail transport (modal shift from rail to road).

The AC4, with a share of 7 % in total EEA32 transport emissions, increased their emissions by 42 % between 1990 and 2004. Whereas emissions decreased in Bulgaria by 32 %, they increased in Croatia by 35 %, in Romania by 95 % and in Turkey by 57 %. The reasons for the decline in Bulgaria are the same as in many other East European countries, namely, economic recession during the early nineties. The change in emissions compared to last year is mainly due to the availability of Turkish emission data.

The EFTA4 countries Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland together account for 3 % of the total GHG emissions from transport in the EEA32 area. The GHG emissions from transport in these four countries were 16 % above the 1990 levels in 2004. In Switzerland, GHG emissions from transport did not increase since 2000 and were only 7 % above 1990 levels in 2004. One reason for the stabilisation since 2000 seems to be the introduction of road pricing for heavy duty vehicles in 2001.

With 97 % in the EEA32, CO2 is by far the most important GHG within the transport sector, followed by N2O (3 %) and CH4 (0.3 %). As catalytic converters lead to a decrease in CH4 emissions, the emissions fell by 48 % between 1990 and 2004. In contrast, the introduction of the catalytic converter has increased N2O emissions from transport.

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