Transport emissions still on the increase

Greenhouse gas emissions from the European transport sector rose 26 per cent between 1990 and 2006, while all other sectors show a declining trend.

Transport continues to contribute disproportionately to Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, poor air quality and noise – and still uses the least efficient modes to move people and goods, according to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
   Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector rose 26 per cent or 180 million tonnes, between 1990 and 2006, excluding international aviation and marine transport. Air pollutants from road vehicles are declining, but air quality is still a problem across Europe.
  “We know the technology exists to tackle impacts of the transport sector on Europe’s environment. However, many vehicles rolling off production lines are anything but green, the freight sector still favours the least efficient transport modes and railways across the EU still do not have a unified system,” said professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director.

Between 1996 and 2006 the total freight volume measured in tonne-kilometres for EU member states increased by 35 per cent. Rail freight and inland waterways saw a decline in market share. Between 1995 and 2006, car ownership levels in the EU27 increased by 22 per cent, or 52 million cars.
  “At a time when we need to tackle our economic and environmental problems through sustainable and green solutions, trends in transport are pointing in the wrong direction; and will continue to contribute to air pollution, rising emissions of greenhouse gas and many negative environmental impacts,” said Professor McGlade.

Well designed policies to manage demand for transport can reduce transport volumes, according to the EEA. This would improve the transport efficiency of the economy and decouple transport growth from economic growth. The report also confirms that price signals play a major role in the choices made by consumers, signalling that fuel and road pricing clearly has a role to play in tackling transport Transport emissions still on the increase demand.

Transport at a crossroads. TERM 2008: indicators tracking transport and environment in the European Union. EEA Report No 3/2009. Available at:

Transport sector greenhouse gas emissions in the EEA 32 countries increased by 28 per cent over the period 1990–2006 (small graph, index 1990=100). This compares with a reduction of 3 per cent in emissions across all sectors. The bigger graph shows the trend in transport sector greenhoue gas emissions for the same period by country.

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