Emissions of many pollutants from transport fell in 2009. But this reduction may only be a temporary effect of the economic downturn, according to the latest annual report on transport emissions from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) explores the environmental impact of travelling. For the first time, the report considers a comprehensive set of quantitative targets proposed by the European Commission’s 2015 roadmap on transport.
‘Emissions levels of almost all pollutants from transport fell in 2009, as there was a drop in demand,’ Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, said. ‘But this fall was due to the economic recession. So now we need to see a more fundamental shift in Europe’s transport system, so that emissions do not increase even in times of strong economic growth.’
The EEA report reflects the efficiency gains that have been made, for example new cars in 2010 were approximately a fifth more efficient than in 2000. However, these relatively modest gains are often outpaced by growing demand, even if the recession slowed activity in some areas. Between 1990 and 2009, demand for transport grew by approximately one third, leading to a 27 per cent increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) from transport in the same period.
New targets proposed in the Commission’s Roadmap will frame policy making at the European, national and municipal level in order to tackle environmental issues connected to transport. The report shows there are significant opportunities for policy makers to address these problems coherently, for example by addressing air quality and climate change together.
For the first time, the EEA has developed a baseline to assess progress towards the transport sector’s environmental targets. These include targets for greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and noise. A core set of 12 indicators has been developed, spanning a wide range of policy areas.
The TERM report includes a chapter on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars. In coming weeks, the EEA will release updated data on manufacturers’ progress towards CO2 targets for new cars. This will be published on www.eea.europa.eu.