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Transport’s true cost to the environment

The European Commission has shared the preliminary results of a study on the negative effects that transport has on the environment, health, air quality and climate – the so-called external costs. The study also looks at infrastructure costs and how these are covered by relevant taxes and charges. The overall annual external costs of transport are estimated at around €1000 billion, corresponding to almost 7 per cent of the gross domestic product of the EU-28.

The main contributors to these external costs are the environment (CO2, noise and air pollution), accidents and congestion. Road transport is the largest contributor, accounting for three-quarters of the total, and is also the mode that leaves the largest share of external costs unpaid. Currently, society as a whole largely pays for these costs, rather than the user or polluter. This is generally true for all transport modes.

Insights from this study will provide input to the Commission’s thinking on the further internalisation of these costs and possible policy measures to achieve this. The study will be finalised in May 2019.

Source: European Commission, 17 December 2018


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