Environmental policiesMobility & TransportPolicy and Affairs

In Brussels there is an elephant in the room: EU transport emissions

Today the emissions of the transports EU are 2,5 times those generated from Italy

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Although they peaked in 2007, today’s emissions of cars, trucks and aircraft in Europe are falling much more slowly than any other sector. Today, politics seems to take the “rising problem” of EU transport emissions under the thumb, but in a few years, by 2030, the decarbonisation of the economy will make it visible: the sector will weigh for 44% of total greenhouse gases.

Transport is the only emissive curve that continues to grow. Today cars and aircraft in Europe still pollute 25% more than in 1990, generating about 1,000 million tons of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2eq) per year, twice and a half those produced by a country like Italy. Meanwhile, Europeans’ dependence on cars has increased in recent decades, aircraft emissions have doubled and could triple if we do not tackle issues such as contrails.

Even agriculture, a sector largely spared by the policies of the Green Deal, has a trajectory in slight decline. And despite the attention given to greenhouse gases in transport by the Commission von der Leyen, the scope of these policies will only manage to reduce emissions by 25% by 2040 and by 62% by mid-century compared to 1990 levels. This was calculated by the pan-European NGO Transport & Environment in a new analysis released today.

The recipe for cutting EU transport emissions seriously

What are the priorities for reversing the course? What should be the focus of the next Commission, which will inherit from the current political weight to address a dossier such as that of emissions from EU transport, become glowing especially for the stop to diesel cars and newly registered petrol from 2035?

There are many aspects to consider, responds T&E. Firstly, we must prevent structural growth in demand: we must stop the expansion of airport and motorway capacity. This also limits the amount of renewables that will be needed to decarbonise transport.
If there has been any progress in recent years thanks to the growing use of electric cars, Europe can do much more here. Serve, T&E writes, “ambitious and binding targets” on EV sales for “companies that own large fleets of vehicles” to make it a flywheel for the penetration of electric cars and grow quickly the used market thus making these vehicles accessible to those with lower availability.

Measures on the demand and acceleration of EVs alone could reduce EU transport emissions by 213 MtCO2eq by 2040, the NGO’s analysis calculates.

But other measures should be taken. Making the shipping sector more efficient would cut another 93 MtCO2eq by this decade. Focusing on electrification instead of listening to hydrogen sirens for road transport is another key element: electrifying is a choice “2 times more efficient than hydrogen and 4 times more efficient than using electric fuels”, continues the report.

“Preliminary data show that last year, road transport emissions were reduced by 8 MtCO2eq and maritime transport by 5 MtCO2eq. This reduction was cancelled by the continuous recovery and growth of aviation emissions, which increased by 15 MtCO2“, reports T&E.

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