Since 1990 emissions from road transport have increased by 22 per cent. Photo: © Shutterstock – Kazlova Iryna

Transport is not on track to implement the Paris Agreement in the EU

GHG emissions from transport are still rising in the EU, despite calls by the environmental movement to cut GHG emissions to almost zero by 2040 at the latest.

Emissions from the EU transport sector are not reducing enough to limit its environmental and climate impacts in Europe says the European Environmental Agency, which last November presented the latest emission data up to 2017.1  Transport emissions were around 26 per cent higher in 2016 than in 1990, and by 2017 they were 28 per cent higher. Between 2007 and 2013, emissions decreased each year. But since 2014 total greenhouse gas emissions from transport, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have been rising again. Since this period, GHG emissions from transport have risen by almost 3 per cent compared with 2015. International aviation experienced the largest percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels (+114%), followed by international shipping (+33%) and road transport (+22%). In 2016, the transport sector contributed 27 per cent of total EU-28 greenhouse gas emissions. The figure decreases to 20 per cent if international aviation and maritime emissions are excluded.

GHG emissions in Europe need to fall to near zero by 2040 to fulfil the Paris Agreement, says Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.2 Friends of the Earth Europe argue that this target should be reached by 2030 to help achieve the climate goal of the Paris Agreement and to assure that global temperature rise stays below 1.5°C. 3

The EU motor vehicle fleet is getting older every year. Passenger cars are now on average 11 years old, vans 10.9 years and heavy commercial vehicles 12 years. For ships, the regular lifetime span is usually from 15 to 40 years, and for airplanes it is common for a jet to remain in service for 25 years or more.4

We have just 21 years left until 2040, and the EU must therefore decide as soon as possible to reduce emissions from transport to near zero by 2030–2040, so that the transport industry can adjust to this target in time. AirClim has published reports5 that show instruments and ways to achieve this goal in Northern Europe, and the conclusions apply to the rest of Europe as well.

Reinhold Pape

5 What will it take to phase out greenhouse gas emissions from road traffic in the Nordic-Baltic region by 2030–2035?


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