EU report highlights the need to reduce transport emissions 

Although emissions from sectors like energy, industry, buildings, and agriculture have decreased since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation have surged by 26%, reaching 1,046 megatonnes of CO2 in 2023.

According to a report by the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), while there may be a slight reduction in transport emissions by 2030, they are expected to remain significantly above the EU’s emissions reduction target of -55% compared to 1990 levels. This would place a heavier burden on other sectors to meet the target.

The report suggests that if emissions reductions in other sectors align with the EU’s target, the transport sector could contribute to 44% of total emissions, up from the current 29%.

The increase in transport emissions is attributed mostly to higher levels of mobility, with car travel rising by 15% since 2000 and aviation emissions more than doubling since 1990. Freight transport emissions have also risen, with lorries and buses seeing a 25% increase and shipping emissions up by 20% compared to 1990 levels.

While technological solutions like electric cars exist, their widespread deployment will take time. In 2023, only one in six new cars sold were fully electric, and considering the average lifespan of cars, it will take years for electric vehicles to replace the current fleet.

T&E proposes regulating company cars, which constitute 58% of new car sales, as a means to drive demand for electric vehicles. The European Commission is exploring this idea through a public consultation.

National ministers face pressure to reduce transport emissions, particularly as road transport, the largest contributor, is included in national climate targets under the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). However, a European Commission report revealed that 19 out of 27 EU countries are off track in meeting their ESR targets, largely due to insufficient action in the transport sector.

Although EU member states promote electric mobility, they are hesitant to implement measures perceived as restricting mobility, fearing backlash akin to recent farmers’ protests across Europe.

The EU’s emissions trading scheme is due to be introduced in 2027. This scheme will price every ton of CO2 emitted by road transport. However, only seven EU countries have factored this scheme into their national projections, leading to uncertainty about its impact on prices.

The EU institutions also aim to cap the additional cost of the emissions trading scheme at €45 per tonne of CO2, but this is not guaranteed. In light of this, some stakeholders question the introduction of the scheme.


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