Transport policies

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Page Last modified 08 Mar 2019
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Transport is integral to most activities in our society. It is therefore being dealt with by policy at all levels, from the global level (i.e. United Nations) to city councils. Of key importance is solving the dilemma between growth-oriented policies which tend to generate more transport, and environmental policies that call for emission reductions. The latter can be hard to achieve as long as technology improvements reducing emissions are outweighed by increasing transport volumes.

Global level

  • Emission standards for ships and aviation are dealt with by the respective UN organisations (International Maritime Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization) and by international conventions including the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution which also addresses other sectors in addition to transport.
  • The Kyoto Protocol, part of the international Framework Convention on Climate Change, regulates greenhouse gas emissions including emissions from transport (except international aviation and maritime transport).


At the EU level

  • The guiding document is the EU common transport policy (2001, reviewed in 2006). This sets out the priorities for action on transport issues, including environmental aspects.
  • In addition, environmental policies and legislation deal with monitoring, emission reduction and air quality improvement (e.g. Environmental Noise Directive, National Emission Ceilings Directive, Cleaner Air for Europe Directive, vehicle emission limits and fuel quality).


National, regional and local levels

  • National transport policies deal partly with the transposition of EU policies into national legislation and partly with the development of the transport sector in each country.
  • The regional and local levels play an important role in practical land-use decisions which again have an important impact on transport demand as well as on the choice between transport modes faced by individual users. If new housing developments are not provided with access to public transport, people are left without a realistic choice.


For more information: Directorate-General Energy and Transport


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Filed under: impacts of transport
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