European Transport Policy

As already indicated, European transport policy has not been immune to the challenges posed by the climate change agenda. Indeed, the first comprehensive document of the European CTP — the 1992 White Paper — flashed the suggestive subtitle: "A Community Framework for Sustainable Mobility" (CEC 1992), indicating its early concern for the long-term environmental impacts. The 2001 White Paper followed up with a program of some 60 proposed measures of action (CEC 2001a), including several to promote "greener" transport systems and policy frameworks.

What was not included in either document was any precise definition of what "sustainable mobility" for Europe should actually look like, and — perhaps more important still — any specific objectives or targets with timelines for reducing the emission of transport GHGs, oil dependence or the other environmental impacts.3 The approach taken to pursue "sustaina-bility" in the context of the European CTP has been so overlaid with other agendas that some scholars have questioned the viability or even the sincerity of such efforts at the European level of policy making at all (see, e.g., Robinson 2004; Tengstrom 1999; Haq 1997).

tion Capacity") might suggest an "epicentre" of proactive action rather forming in countries or regions with the capacity to nurture a socioeconomic environment favourable for the emergence of profitable (or protected) low- or noncarbon transport industries. For excellent introductions to this literature see e.g., Andersen and Massa (2000) and Mol and Sonnenfeld (2000).

3 Even if such targets were promised for later (CEC 2001, p 18), this has since been abandoned.

Three general conditions for European transport policy making could be noted here:

1) First of all the CTP must still be seen as a new invention, even if its mandates reach back to the Treaty of Rome in 1957. In many ways this policy is still in the making, some of its basic frameworks (e.g., competitive markets, shared networks, uniform fiscal structures) are still struggling to materialise. This means that the conditions for an "activist" policy approach have been less than optimal, at least so far.

2) Second, European transport policy forms a somewhat incoherent "superstructure" on top of national, regional and local policies. To mention a few items, transport system investments and operation are largely national/regional matters (even if the markets are governed by EU rules), while vehicle and fuel standards are matters of European harmonisation. Taxation reforms require full member state consensus, a severe restraint on pushing forward key "green" elements of the CTP. The uneven division of responsibilities for various parts of essentially the same transport system complicates the understanding of what may be achieved by action at the EU level and what not, and also of whom to hold accountable for eventual policy failures.

3) Third, it is as clear in the EU as anywhere that transport is a derived demand from other economic activities, further implying that actual transport policy very often reflects, serves or directly materialises broader policy objectives, for which transport is but one instrument. Hence, it is obvious that the CTP has been shaped primarily to help realise the idea of the single market in Europe, and secondly to support regional integration and cohesion via the construction of trans-European links. Surely, environmental and social dimensions have been incorporated in the general legal frameworks, as well as in its overall political priorities, but practical measures have still mostly catered to the perceived role of transport as a tool to overcome restrictions and friction on trade and economic expansion (Schmidt and Giorgi 2001).

Taken together these factors suggest that initiatives to influence developments in the transport sector would often originate in one "nontransport" policy context (market, cohesion, taxation, agriculture, energy, etc.), and then stall in another, before or under implementation, making it very difficult to achieve in practice any coherent strategy for the CTP, let alone materialise such a thing as "Sustainable Mobility." Still, any attempts to explicitly abandon these highly profiled aims again would likely introduce considerable cacophony into the current European policy climate. The EU is often torn between bold vision and limited steering capacity.

Leaving political theorizing aside, the following analysis will focus on the performance of a few key objectives and programs in the existing policy frameworks, which do in fact attempt to bear more or less directly on the climate change and oil "headaches" caused by current transport trends.

10.3.1 Decoupling

The primary strategic policy objective to promote more sustainable mobility and transport in Europe has been defined as a need to decouple economic growth from growth in transport volumes. In the spirit of the influential "Brundtland Report" (WCED 1987) thinking on sustainability, this objective aims to reconcile economic and environmental baselines: If economic growth could be stimulated especially in sectors or businesses with low physical transport intensities, new opportunities could open for earlier stabilisation or even reduction of GHG emissions. The decoupling objective has been backed by all major political entities of the EU on several occa-sions,4 and it has been chosen as one of the very few environmental parameters to be monitored closely as part of the EU's high profile "Lisbon" strategy for (sustainable) growth and jobs.

What would it require to achieve such a "decoupling" (curbing transport growth without putting the economy to a halt)? Basically a substantial shift in the relative prices for transport versus other (presumably equivalent) factors of production and consumption. How could that be achieved? In several ways, theoretically, while the (at least verbal) attention in the EU so far has been directed mostly to the pricing instrument, more specifically a strategy known as "Fair and Efficient Pricing." This means a regime where transport system users pay the full cost for the use of the infrastructure and eventually for all externalities, which is obviously not the case today. Would such a scheme ensure decoupling? Yes, according to the European Commission, at least if done together with whole package of measures proposed in the White Paper (CEC 2001 Annex II p 110 ff.).

Looking at the relations as they actually develop reveals, however, that so far little "decoupling" has occurred. In fact, ironically, inland freight transport growth in the EU has started to overtake GDP growth since 2001. For passenger transport some might interpret the last few years as weak signs, but according the European Commission's own most recent assessment of the structural indicators, "...hardly any decoupling of transport growth and GDP growth has occurred" (CEC 2005b). The simple explanation is that so far there has been limited actual progress in implementing

4 Adopted by European ministers of transport in 1999 and heads of state in 2001.

the "Fair and Efficient" pricing regime (EEA 2004b; Vickerman 2004; Liana and Tandon 2001). No policy, no effect. In fairness, it must also be added that the indicators come with a time delay that only marginally overlaps with policy developments since adoption of the objective, if any, had the "Fair and Efficient" pricing regime (EEA 2004b; Vickerman 2004; Liana and Tandon 2001). No policy, no effect. In fairness, it must also be added that the indicators come with a time delay that only marginally overlaps with policy developments since adoption of the objective, if any, had

15 since 1995 (Source: EUROSTAT and DG TREN 2004)

10.3.2 Stabilising Modal Split

Much the same story can be told for the other, "grand" European sustainable mobility objective, that of returning the modal split between road transport and other modes to their 1998 levels by 2010. Presently, almost the full weight of the increasing transport demand falls on road transport, which (together with aviation, another growing concern) is the most GHG-intensive mode, both on the freight and on the passenger side. This takes place at the expense of market shares for rail, inland water, etc. Turning this trend around represents a no less daunting task than "decoupling", but it could potentially have very favourable implications for climate and other environmental concerns. In the White Paper, again, the Commission presented figures suggesting that road transport on average produces more than four times the external costs of rail transport (CEC 2001a. Annex II, p 110 ff.). The actual benefits of achieving the objective in 2010 would, however, obviously depend on the specific environmental performance characteristics of the transport flows eventually being "switched," as well as the environmental impact from any additional supporting infrastuctures needed to achieve this.

Car / truck share of inland transport

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

Passenger car share M Road freight share

Fig. 9. Modal split for freight and passenger inland transport in the EU (Source: EUROSTAT and DG TREN 2004)

Looking at the figures, again we see no sign so far that the trends are reversing, and hence one can not count any positive effects on GHG emissions either. The European Environment Agency states in its "TERM 2004" indicator report:

Contrary to the aim of the Common Transport Policy, the shares of aviation and road transport continue to grow, while the shares of rail, bus, and inland shipping are gradually decreasing. However, because the environmental performance of road transport is improving faster than other modes, the consequences of its growth are not as bad for the environment as might be expected. (EEA 2004b, p 16) In the case of the modal split target, a range of policies to substantially reinforce the alternative modes has in fact been launched over the last few years. Examples include railway liberalisation policy packages to improve

84 82

84 82

74 72 70

74 72 70

the effectiveness and competitiveness of this mode; initiatives to stimulate inland waterway and canal transport with a similar purpose; and in 2004 the much advertised MARCO POLO program that directly supports Europe-wide investments in intermodal transport facilities and operations. Again, however, these policies are too new and too few to have affected transport patterns in any discernible way (considering also indicators come with a three-year time delay). Moreover it could also well be asked (and remains to be seen) if reinforcements of the alternative modes in themselves would do much to slow down road transport growth.

10.3.3 CO2 from Passenger Cars

The most specific measure in place to address transport CHG emissions is not even a policy measure at all. It is a series of voluntary commitments by the automaking industry associations in Europe (ACEA), Japan (JARA) and Korea (KAMA) to reduce the average CO2 emissions per kilometre for new passenger cars sold on the market to an average of 140 g/km in 2008 (2009 for KAMA). These commitments are part of a broader EU policy strategy with two other elements as well:

• Initiatives to make information of vehicle fuel use more readily available to consumers; and

• The use of economic instruments to further promote purchases of fewer

CO2-emitting vehicles.

The overall objective of the combined strategy is to reach 120 g CO2/km no later than 2010.

As can be seen from Figure 10, progress has been made towards the objective, as average emissions from new cars is down from around 186 g in 1995 to 164 g in 2003, a near 12% drop (CEC 2005d). A significant part of this drop is due to consumers increasingly shifting from petrol to diesel cars. Progress seems to have slowed down and the present curve does not appear to lead to the 140 g target. In terms of the two other elements in the strategy (labelling and incentives), initiatives have been most advanced in the former case, but no evidence of the effects of this measures have been provided. Hence the 120 g target is not likely to be reached by 2010. The overall effect of the strategy on the average fuel efficiency of the EU vehicle fleet has been modest, and so far not deep enough to reverse the trend towards higher emissions each year in absolute terms (EEA 2004b). Car manufacturers have strongly opposed a further tightening of the limits beyond 2008/9 citing cost grounds. They advocate a so-called "integrated

CO2 from passenger cars

CO2 from passenger cars

Fig. 10. Progress in achieving 140 and 120 g CO2/km targets; 2008 is ACEA and JAMA targets dts. 2009 is for KAMA (Source: CEC 2004)

--ACEA

—CD—JAMA —

KAMA

—■—EU-15

• Vol targets--

EU target

Fig. 10. Progress in achieving 140 and 120 g CO2/km targets; 2008 is ACEA and JAMA targets dts. 2009 is for KAMA (Source: CEC 2004)

approach" that would address vehicle emission controls together with fuel alternatives, infrastructure design and driving patterns. This idea has been met with some support (Dutch Presidency 2004) and the further elaboration of it may attract attention in the coming years.

10.3.4 Biofuels

The European Commission's White Paper on Renewable Energy Sources from 2000 set out a general objective to double the share of these sources in gross inland energy consumption from 6% to 12% by 2010. The main concern was energy security. The separate ambition for the transport sector was a minimum 20% penetration of alternatives to oil by 2020 (CEC 2000). The Commission identified biofuels as the most viable alternative option in the short run, with natural gas and hydrogen as medium-range and long-term options. Biofuels had been promoted earlier through changes in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Specific targets for the share of biofuels in transport energy supply were defined in the 2003 Biofuels Directive as 2% in 2005 and 5.75% by 2010. Member states are not bound by these figures but were requested to use them for setting their own indicative targets (CEC 2001b). Progress towards the objectives is monitored based on annual national reports to the Commission and the EU-wide "Biofuels Barometer."

Biofuels trends EU-25

20000 18000 16000 14000 g 12000

® 8000 6000 4000 2000 0

Actual Projection ♦ Estimated targets

Actual Projection ♦ Estimated targets

Fig. 11. Amounts of biofuels produced — actual and projected — compared to indicative targets in the biofuels directive. Data for 2000-2003 are for EU-15, from 2004 and onwards (projection) include EU-25 (Sources: Biofuels Barometer 2005; Tzimas et al. 2004)

Fig. 11. Amounts of biofuels produced — actual and projected — compared to indicative targets in the biofuels directive. Data for 2000-2003 are for EU-15, from 2004 and onwards (projection) include EU-25 (Sources: Biofuels Barometer 2005; Tzimas et al. 2004)

There are some discrepancies in the statistics, but despite high growth rates in the production of biodiesel and bio-ethanol over the last several years, the EU will not likely meet the 2005 or 2010 targets (Biofuels Barometer 2005).The delay arises due to various political, economic and technical reasons. Member states have reacted very unevenly to the call to set indicative targets. Some countries have adopted the Commission's recommended values, while several others have not provided any response at all. Others again are in explicit disagreements with the approach. Denmark, for example, declared a zero biofuels target referring to their low cost-effectiveness as a CO2-abatement measure at present.5 Concerns are also raised over the considerable land take required to produce necessary (in

5 See the European Commission's website on Member States Reports in the frame of Directive 2003/30EC. URL: http://europa.eu.int/comm./energy/ res/lesislation/biofuels_members_states_en.htm.

the range of 5-15% of all arable land in Europe to reach the 5,75% target) and over possibly deteriorating air quality if a higher bioethanol supplement to petrol is allowed (see e.g., Tzimas et al. 2004). All in all the strategy for introducing biofuels in transport is in progress but it remains controversial and will likely suffer delays in reaching its objectives.

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Your Alternative Fuel Solution for Saving Money, Reducing Oil Dependency, and Helping the Planet. Ethanol is an alternative to gasoline. The use of ethanol has been demonstrated to reduce greenhouse emissions slightly as compared to gasoline. Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know why choosing an alternative fuel may benefit you and your future.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment