EU has called on the transport sector to act upon its growth in emissions

The transport sector in the EU must apply rigorous measures to help Europe meet its greenhouse gas emission targets, says a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The study urges policy-makers to set challenging, but realistic targets for this sector, while addressing transport demand 'in a serious and unbiased way'.

'I am convinced that we can limit the spiralling growth of emissions from the transport sector', said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA. 'The unrestrained growth of transport activities creates too many side-effects which concern us all, such as noise and air pollution. It is also inflicting severe damage upon Europe’s biodiversity.'

'EU transport policy must act upon this growth of emissions', said Professor McGlade. 'If transport, and particularly road transport, had followed the trends of other economic sectors, we could have shown international leadership by having reached our greenhouse gas emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol several years ago.'

The report also urges integration of land use and transport in urban planning. Across the EU-15, cities account for roughly 80 % of traffic congestion costs, including loss of working hours.

'Transport has been a free-rider for too long when it comes to the fight against global warming and carbon emissions. Governments and citizens need to rethink radically their approach to transport policy — if nothing else, out of self-concern in protecting their health. We cannot continue to give privileges to less efficient transport modes', said Professor McGlade.

This EU-wide study reveals that voluntary commitments by car manufacturers to improve efficiency in vehicles have not resulted in sufficient gains, said the EEA. In addition, the occupancy rates of private vehicles have gradually been going down. Approximately 12 % of the overall EU emissions of CO2 come from fuel burnt by passenger cars.

International aviation and maritime transport activities are not included in the Kyoto protocol commitments, in part because of the difficulties to allocate emissions to a specific country.