Final energy consumption by mode of transport

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: TERM 001
Created 21 Aug 2007 Published 21 Apr 2009 Last modified 09 Jan 2017
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This indicator considers the total energy consumption in transport in Petajoules (PJ) from 1990 onwards. Transport modes included are bunkers (sea), air transport (domestic and international), inland navigation, rail and road transport.

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)


Justification for indicator selection

Energy consumption is an important driver of environmental pressures, most notably climate change. The growth of energy consumption in the transport sector is hampering efforts to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions and, to date, measures to reduce energy consumption in transport have not had the desired effect.

Scientific references

Indicator definition

This indicator considers the total energy consumption in transport in Petajoules (PJ) from 1990 onwards. Transport modes included are bunkers (sea), air transport (domestic and international), inland navigation, rail and road transport.


Energy consumption by transport is measured in Petajoules (1 PJ = 1015 J)

Policy context and targets

Context description

Reductions in fuel consumption in the transport sector, and/or reductions of its related impacts, may be achieved via three primary means:

  • Avoid: reduce transport demand by limiting the number of trips and their length;
  • Shift: shift to more fuel efficient transport modes;
  • Improve: increase the energy efficiency of vehicles and their energy sources; includes fuel switching, i.e. changing to renewable or low carbon fuels such as sustainable biofuels or using renewable generation technologies for electric or fuel cell vehicles.

Although climate policy and the Kyoto protocol are important drivers in reducing fossil fuel consumption (and air quality policy to a lesser extent), this indicator is primarily concerned with energy policy. Other related issues are addressed in TERM002 (Transport Emissions of Greenhouse Gases), TERM003 (Transport Emissions of Air Pollutants) and TERM031 (Uptake of Cleaner and Alternative Fuels).


The EU has set itself the following targets:

  • By 2020 there should be a 30 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, in the context of a global agreement and a 20 % unilateral reduction.
  • The EU Roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy in 2050 calls for an 80 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as a global action to prevent climate change (Decision No 406/2009/EC).

If the 2030 policy framework, proposed in January 2014, is accepted, these targets will be built upon. Additional targets, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % by 2030, and increase the renewable energy share by at least 27 %, also by 2030, will be set. Improvements to energy efficiency are still encouraged (from the “20-20-20” target of increasing energy efficiency by 20 % by 2020) but no new target has been proposed (EC, 2014a).

Two key documents published by the European Commission in 2011 outline possible strategies for the transport sector, compatible with the 2050 target. These are the ‘Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (EC, 2011a) and the third decennial Transport White Paper, ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (EC, 2011b).

The impact assessment that accompanied the 2011 Transport White Paper (EC, 2011a) suggests that a 70 % reduction in oil consumption in transport from 2008 levels should be achieved by 2050.

Related policy documents

  • 2009/29/ec
    Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community.
  • COM (2008) 11
    First assessment of national energy efficiency plans as required by Directive 2006/32/EC on energy end-use efficiency and energy services – Moving towards together on energy efficiency
  • COM (2011) 112 - A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050
    With its "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050" the European Commission is looking beyond these 2020 objectives and setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95% by mid-century as agreed by European Heads of State and governments. It shows how the sectors responsible for Europe's emissions - power generation, industry, transport, buildings and construction, as well as agriculture - can make the transition to a low-carbon economy over the coming decades.
  • COM(2005) 265 final. Green paper on energy efficiency or doing more with less. European Commission.
  • COM(2006) 545
    Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
  • COM(2007) 19
    Results of the review of the Community Strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles.
  • COM(2010) 2020 final, Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
    European Commission, 2010. Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. COM(2010) 2020 final. 
  • COM(2011) 21
    A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy
  • COM(2011) 144 Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system
  • COM(2014) 15 final
    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions "A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030". 22 January 2014, COM(2014) 15 final; {SWD(2014) 15 final}, {SWD(2014) 16 final}.  This Communication p resents an integrated policy framework with binding EU-wide targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and the development of renewable energy sources and with objectives for energy efficiency improvements for the period up to 2030.
  • Decision No 406/2009/EC (Effort Sharing Decision)
    Decision No 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020
  • DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC
  • DIRECTIVE 2009/30/EC
    DIRECTIVE 2009/30/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and introducing a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the specification of fuel used by inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 93/12/EEC
  • Guidelines on financial incentives for clean and energy efficient vehicles
    Commission staff working document
    Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
  • REGULATION (EC) No 661/2009
    REGULATION (EC) No 661/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor
  • REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011
    REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles

Key policy question

Is the total energy consumption in transport growing?


Methodology for indicator calculation

Energy statistics for transport are collected from Member States and collated by Eurostat. To assess whether total energy consumption in transport is growing, time series data for energy consumed were obtained from Eurostat. Data for various fuels were downloaded for ‘bunkers’ (sea), air (domestic and international), inland navigation, road and rail transport. Data for bunkers cover the quantities of fuel delivered to sea-going vessels of all countries. Data for inland and coastal water are not included in bunkers (sea). Data for air cover quantities of fuel consumed in national and international air traffic. Energy consumed by electric and diesel trains is included within rail data. 

Since Eurostat data are being used to process statistics, the Eurostat methodology should be referred to for data collection and specification (see Eurostat, ITF and UNECE, 2009).

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap-filling is applied for this indicator.

Methodology references

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

Data trends within individual countries are difficult to ascertain as energy consumption data often show unexpected volatility from year to year. Energy consumption is calculated based on fuel sales and a common questionnaire is used to report it.

Data sets uncertainty

National data vary significantly from country to country and depending on the fuel type and production/consumption sector. The most reliable data come from the EU-15 Member States. However, oil pipeline data are lacking for the majority of countries, making them less reliable. Occasionally, data used in older time-series may change due to revisions in the methodology used. Such changes have resulted in small alterations of a few percent.

For the EU-13, data are generally much less reliable. Gaps are frequent, as are conspicuous jumps in consumption (e.g. doubling or more).

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Work description

Further work could be undertaken to improve the methodology for the allocation of energy consumption from bunkers and aviation. In particular, for bunkers a more appropriate method for recording energy consumption may be to make sure that consumption is allocated to the appropriate member country transporting the freight and not the country providing the bunkers.   Detailed information on biofuels by product (classified as ‘5545 Biofuels’, ‘5546 Bio gasoline’, ‘5547 Biodiesel’, ‘5548 Other Liquid Biofuels’) has been separated as of 2005. Currently fuel type products 5546, 5547 and 5548 are aggregated to make up 5545. For other years from 1990 to 2004 only the aggregated product 5545 is available, but in the future, analysis of bio energy produced by specific type could be analyzed.

Resource needs

No resource needs have been specified


In progress


2015/12/31 00:00:00 GMT+1

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Diana Vedlugaite


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
TERM 001
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Transport Transport

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year


DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Related content

Data references used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

Filed under:
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100