Outlooks beyond Kyoto

Notwithstanding limitations to efforts and accomplishments so far, present European transport policies have yet to start taking into account the even more demanding trajectories that may be defined beyond the present Kyoto commitment period, after 2012.

A major prompt to do so is the landmark political decision by the European heads of state (confirmed in spring 2005) that the European Union will aim for a stabilisation of the average global temperature at max. 2 de grees above pre-industrial levels.6 Much work is presently being done to analyse the GHG concentrations levels, emissions scenarios, burden sharing arrangements and subsequent mitigation policies that may enable this limit to be respected, and what costs and benefits this may involve (a recent overview by the European Commission from February 2005 (CEC 2005a) is already partly outdated). Some general implications of the studies can be highlighted:

• Concentrations: A consensus seems to be emerging among scientist and policy makers in Europe that to secure the 2 degree limit with reasonable certainty, a stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 equivalents at or even below 450 ppm will be necessary (den Elzen and Meinshausen 2005; Hare and Meinshausen 2004; Criqui et al. 2004).

• Time frames: The timeline to break present emission trends in order to achieve future stabilisation at or below 450 ppm CO2 equivalent is very short, possibly less than two decades, after which global emissions will have to be substantially reduced (den Elzen and Meinshausen 2005).

• Burden sharing: The strategies that countries in the various regions of the world will make (or not) to mitigate emissions are extremely important for what would be required of Europe (Hare and Meinshausen 2004; Torvanger et al. 2004). In one baseline projection, Europe's contribution to global GHG emissions will drop from around 14% today to just 8% in 2050 (CEC 2005a).

• Costs: Cost figures to reach 2 degree target show substantial variations among studies. Achieving lower concentration levels (e.g., 400 ppm rather than 550 or 650) is generally considered to involve substantially increased costs. However, avoided damages by reducing other externalities (so-called co-benefits) may compensate for a significant part of the costs (Torvanger et al. 2004). Early turnarounds may also be favourable compared with late ones: Allowing emissions first to rise, and then facing annual emission cuts above 2,5% could be extremely costly (den Elzen and Meinshausen 2005).

6 In reference to the obligation in Article Two of the UN Climate Convention to pursue "...stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."

• Emission targets: Based on the existing evidence, heads of state of the EU have politically agreed to aim for a reduction in the range of 1530% by 2020 compared with 1990 as average for the developed world, while a specific European target will depend on the post-2012 commitment regime. EU environment ministries further proposed an indicative target value for 2050 at 60-80% reductions for the developed countries, which so far has not been endorsed by the heads of state. Some individual states have already made political commitments to specific targets, notably a 60% reduction for the UK by 2050 (UK Government 2003).

10.5.1 Challenges to the Transport Sector

This general setup clearly implies that the transport systems and policies in Europe will come under increasing pressure to turn its present growth in GHG emissions around more strongly. The exact mitigation requirements cannot be deduced, however. One the one hand these will depend strongly on how the "post 2012" framework will end up looking (for example, according to one recent UK study, the reduction burden on the transport sector in 2050 could increase by 100%, if a 450 ppm concentration level is chosen as a target over 550 ppm, Bristow et al. 2004). One the other hand the mitigation requirements will depend on associated real, perceived and political costs of implementation in that sector vis a vis other sectors.

As the indicators review has shown, transport so far has not been targeted very strongly in the present European climate policies. One reason is that GHG mitigation options in transport are generally found to be less cost-effective than measures in many other sectors (e.g., Blok et al. 2001; Ministry of Finance 2003). This is again associated with the already relatively high levels of taxation in Europe (e.g., on transport fuels or vehicles purchases).

However this understanding may well change when the vision reaches beyond 2012 and "only" an -8% reduction, or, as it has been put "...considering deeper cuts to 2050, transport would have to play a role" (Bristow et al. 2004). Figure 12 illustrates this predicament in a purely speculative fashion. A change in the general understanding could emerge from looking at transport system trajectories over longer time frames. A new impetus could also be sparked by steeply rising mitigation costs of (or growing opposition to) further cuts in other sectors.

EU transport in the greenhouse





c 2500

c 2500


+ Kyoto target

+ Beyond


Fig. 12. European transport in the greenhouse. The full lines show transport CO2 forecasts to 2030 as baseline and with estimated effects of the transport White Paper fully in effect (CEC 2003). The transport trends are compared with overall (all sector) emission objectives, the -8% Kyoto commitment of the EU and the 2020 and (tentative) 2050 targets proposed for the developed countries

Numerous studies of sustainable transport options, scenarios and impacts in Europe have been undertaken over the last decade or so with support from the European research programs and other sources. Opportunities to continue and expand this work substantially will exist, considering the outlook for significant increases in research funding in the upcoming Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (2007 to 2013) (CEC 2005c) — see Table 2.

We will make no attempt here to review the vast research literature on sustainable transport7 but will highlight a few of the issues that are likely to feature prominently on the European transport research agenda over the coming years.

7 For systematic overviews of EU funded research into sustainable transport see e.g., the work of the EXTRA teams (EXTRA 2001).

Table 2. Breakdown of proposed European Research Budget 2007-2013 (Source: CEC 2005c)

10.5.2 Technology and Fuel Efficiency Improvements

Obviously, there are considerable potentials for reducing transport GHG emissions simply by making existing transport technologies (engines, vehicles, equipment, etc.) much more energy efficient. Passenger cars is one area where the technical potential for efficiency improvement is very far from being exhausted; freight vehicles represent additional options (e.g., reduced rolling resistance), while technical opportunities for air transport and other modes may be somewhat more restricted (Blok et al. 2001). While the main thrust of technical R&D work is likely to come from the industries themselves, there will be a need for studying how these efforts could be effected by different types of regulation and incentive regimes. Another issue for scientific enquiry may be to investigate to what extent pushing existing transport systems towards still higher technical efficiencies will always be the best way to reduce GHG emissions. One controversial view is that since transport GHG emissions are already substantially overtaxed compared with other sectors, the technology is already "over efficient" (Proost 2000), and some countries even "undermotorized." Another critical view is that benefits of technical efficiency improvements may largely be negated by negative effects (congestion, accidents, air pollution) of induced extra driving (Litman 2005).



Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology Information and Communication Technologies Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies Energy

Environment (including Climate Change) Transport (including Aeronautics) Socioeconomic Sciences and the Humanities Security and Space Total (cooperation part)

2931 2535 5940 792 3960 44432

8317 2455 12670 4832

10.5.3 Alternative Fuel Technologies

As already discussed there is much concern over oil dependent transport systems and considerable interests in promoting various alternatives — especially biofuels, natural gas and hydrogen. Each alternative represents unique sets of advantages, costs and drawbacks (Tzimas et al. 2003). Biofuels can take off in the short run, since they require limited new infrastructure. One major R&D area here is improving the industrial processing of lignocelluloses materials (wood, etc.) as a potentially abundant feedstock for bioethanol. Still, the main barrier is likely to be the limitations of available resources considering both competing land use issues and other possibly more efficient usages of the bioenergy. Natural gas is an intermediary, possibly transitional option, with a limited potential based on proven technologies. Investments needed to supply just 10% of road transport in Europe (an indicative EU objective) are likely to be very substantial (Tzi-mas et al. 2003). Hydrogen for ICE and especially fuel cell driven vehicles is considered an option for the very long term (20-30 years expected before any substantial penetration). The challenges and unsolved problems in this area are manifold (technical, economic, institutional, cultural, etc.). Hence hydrogen as a transport fuel is likely to become a rich area for multi- and interdisciplinary research interest. A cross-cutting research issue in the area of alternative fuel systems could be how to overcome technological lock-in, of which current fossil-based transport systems is a classic example. One aspect of this could be to explore the conditions for the emergence of "strategic niches" where alternatives are allowed to enter practical use on a small scale, partly protected from the market pressure. Examples could be publicly owned fleets, special purpose vehicles or dedicated "communities" of users.

10.5.4 Mobility and Transport Demand Management

Several scenario studies have argued that feasible technological alternatives (be they within or beyond an oil context) will hardly suffice to reach emission reductions of the magnitude of 60-80% over the next 30-40 years, should such targets become adopted (see e.g., Thaler et al. 2000; Banister et al. 2000). Measures to influence passenger transport behaviour and freight flows and even overall demand for mobility will most likely also be necessary. Demand for transport appears to be relatively insensitive (inelastic) to policy measures, but most policies so far have focused on increasing the range of choices (e.g., providing new rail links) rather than on implementing restraints. Directly reducing vehicle kilometres travelled would of course give immediate GHG reductions while also providing for attractive side benefits in terms of reduced congestion, accidents, local pollution, etc. The challenge is how to achieve this without sacrificing access and mobility (trips, opportunities, quality of movement). Such policies are usually considered highly controversial, due to risks of welfare loss, social regression and interference with entrenched lifestyles. However, there are studies (e.g., IEA 2005) as well as very many local examples (London, Groningen, Lund, etc.) indicating that under the right circumstances, transport demand may be successfully managed and even restrained without substantial controversy or excessive costs.

10.5.5 Aviation and CO2

Aviation is bound to attract more attention in the near future. It is the fastest growing mode of transport, its climate impact may be around three times that of other transport modes per litre of fuel, due to the atmospheric chemistry at high latitudes; it is virtually exempt from any climate or energy regulations today, and soon the impacts of air market liberalisation in Europe will boost demand for travel even further. Today, aviation stands for ca 3,5% of total GHG emissions. In 2050 this share will likely have risen to 5%, both figures without considering the significant additional contribution from flight contrails and formation of cirrus cloud (Penner et al. 1999). One academic exercise (Bows et al. 2005) suggests that unchecked aviation by 2050 would consume as much as 85% of the EU-25's entire "carbon budget" assuming all other sectors would adjust according to the objective. Unchecked aviation does not seem to be a realistic scenario. While emissions from domestic air traffic are covered by the present Kyoto obligations, few states have undertaken any action in that area so far.8 International aviation, emitting almost five times the CO2 amount of domestic air, is entirely exempt even if the protocol does oblige signatory countries to "...pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases (...) from aviation (...), working through the International Civil Aviation Organization..." (Kyoto Protocol, Art 2.2). In this process an international kerosene tax has been proposed as a theoretically preferred option, but this idea has met massive opposition from some countries and the airline industry. A more widely accepted solution seems to be inclusion of the sector in the EU's Emission Trading scheme by 2008 or (more likely) 2012. This would provide at least some incentive for GHG housekeeping

8 In the UK, British Airways has joined the national voluntary emissions trading system.

in the air over Europe. However, the actual design of a fair and workable system may require considerable research. Just to mention one item, the full climate impact of flights is much dependent on the time, place and meteorology, as apposed to CO2 emissions, from ground-based industrial sources (Cames and Deuber 2004). Again, how to devise an effective policy framework is a key question.

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