TERM 2017: mixed progress for Europe’s transport sector in meeting environment, climate goals

News Published 05 Dec 2017 Last modified 19 Nov 2018
2 min read
Photo: © Roberto Tavazzani, My City/EEA
Europe’s transport sector is making only mixed progress in meeting its environment, health and climate policy targets, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment published today, which tracks the short and long-term environmental performance of this key economic sector across the European Union.

Reducing the environmental, health and climate pressures arising from Europe’s transport sector is critical to achieving the EU’s long-term 2050 objective of living well within the limits of the planet. The EEA Briefing “Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM)” gives the annual progress assessment based on a series of indicators which track the progress of the transport sector in meeting related policy targets and objectives. Issues covered in the briefing include emissions, air pollution, noise and renewable energy and the impact of transport on ecosystems and biodiversity. A follow-up TERM report focusing on the environmental impacts arising from aviation and shipping will be published next month. 

Figure 1. Evolution of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU-28 from 1990 to 2016

Note: Preliminary data for 2016 (EEA, 2017a), although not available for international navigation.


Key findings

  • Provisional data shows that in 2016, greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector (including international aviation but excluding maritime shipping) across the EU-28 were 25 % higher than in 1990, confirming an upward trend in emissions since 2014.
  • The average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of new passenger vans and cars in 2016 were below the respective target paths for 2020 and 2021, although considerable reductions still need to be made in the coming years for manufacturers to meet future targets.
  • While sales of new diesel passenger cars have decreased in recent years, the share of diesel used in road transport (including for freight transport by heavy-duty vehicles) has continued to rise, amounting to more than 66 % of total fuel sales in road transport in 2015, compared with 51 % in 2000.
  • Oil consumption by the transport sector will need to fall by more than two-thirds to meet the objective of reducing consumption by 70 % by 2050 compared with 2008 levels.
  • The share of renewable energy in transport in the EU rose from 6.7 % in 2015 to 7.1 % in 2016, lower than the 10 % target set for 2020. Three Member States (Austria, Finland and Sweden) have already reached the 10 % goal.
  • Transport is the main source of environmental noise in Europe and contributes to pressure on ecosystem and biodiversity habitats. It also continues to be a significant source of harmful air pollution, especially through emissions of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. 


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