System Indicators of European Transport in Terms of Energy and Climate Change

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It is widely recognised that transport, as a major contributor to energy consumption and GHG emissions on a worldwide basis, represents a growing

"headache" for policy makers. Globally, the sector represents 26% of final energy demand (34% for the OECD) and 57% of oil demand (IEA 2004). The International Energy Agency warns of a likely 50% increase in transport CO2 emissions from 2000 to 2030 in the OECD as a whole (IEA 2003). In the European Union the transport sector is also a very significant oil consumer, and it is among the fastest growing sectors in terms of energy demand and GHG emissions.

Transport in EU-15 emitted 845 million tons of CO2 in 2003 (921 million if the 10 new member states are counted). This corresponds to a rise in the transport share of the total GHG emission aggregate from around 21% to around 25% between 1990 and 2003 (all excluding emissions from international aviation and marine bunkers). Transport growth over the last decade has resulted in transport GHG emissions in the EU-15 increasing by 20% since 1990, while other sectors have decreased their emissions by 10%.

CO2 emissions EU-25

CO2 emissions EU-25

Transport Other sectors —All

Fig. 1. EU-25 CO2 emissions 1990-2003 for transport, other sectors and total (EEA 2005)


Transport Other sectors —All

Fig. 1. EU-25 CO2 emissions 1990-2003 for transport, other sectors and total (EEA 2005)

Fig. 2. Transport growth in EU-15 (Source: DG TREN 2004)

Drivers behind these trends are to be found in a pattern of economic growth that is tightly linked to increasing demand for movement of both people and goods — and in a techno-economic system increasingly "locked in" to fossil fuel use and motor vehicle dependence. Between 1979 and 2000, freight transport volumes (in tonne/km) in Europe grew by 90% in the EU-15; for passengers it was more than 130% in the same period (DG TREN 2004). Almost all of the growth took place in road transport (lorries and passenger cars, respectively). Growth trends have continued in the last decade and energy efficiency has not improved in any significant way to counter their effects. The European Transport GHG emissions originate in both passenger and freight transport presently (in 2000) at a ratio of around 60 to 40 (Samaras et al. 2002).

Transport growth draws heavily on oil reserves and imports. European "domestic" oil production is likely to have peaked around 2000, and is set to fall by almost 50% from 2000 to 2030 in the baseline scenario (CEC 2003). Meanwhile oil demand will continue to go up, suggesting a further increase in dependence on imported oil. Already in 2004 EU import dependence (ratio imported to domestic production) was more than twice that of the US. While overall oil demand may "flatten out" somewhat towards 2030 due to diversification to natural gas in other sectors, transport is projected to increase its share of oil demand from 64% in 1990 to around 80% in 2030.

Fig. 3. Projected oil production demand and import in the EU 1990-2030 (CEC 2003)
Table 1. Oil dependence

Mio T/year



North America


Oil imports



Indigenous production






While the general growth trends in transport, energy demand and emissions in Europe are akin to what has happened in much of the developed world, the structural composition of the European transport systems compared with the US and Japan is noteworthy. On the passenger side, Europe stands out almost as car- (and hence oil-) based as the US, while Japan has a very significant share served by rail (with mixed fuel basis). For freight it is the other way around where the US has a very large share in rail (diesel fuelled), while EU freight trade is dominated by sea and road (and hence also oil), quite similar to Japan. Rail transport (with flexible fuel potential) plays only a small (and diminishing) role in European transport for both passengers and freight. Europe relies more on road transport than either the US or Japan.

The 25 EU member states have (except for Cyprus and Malta, which are not Annex 1 countries) individual target commitments for the Kyoto Protocol under the UNFCCC. The individual targets differ widely according to national circumstances and outlooks. In addition the EU-15 has a joint

Passenger transport 2001





■ Passenger car

□ Railways, trams etc

□ Bus / coach

□ Waterborne

□ Air (domestic / intra-EU)

Freight transport 2001

- mp'B—Ä

EU-25 USA Japan

□ Inland waterways □ Oil pipeline

Fig. 4. Model composition of passenger and freight transport in EU-25 US and Japan (DG TREN 2004)

target that represents the weighted sum of the (negotiated and agreed) individual national commitments of these "old" member countries.

Progress towards the targets can be noted. According to the most recent review by the European Environment Agency (EEA 2005) the EU-15 has so far taken strides towards its Kyoto commitment to reduce GHGs by 8% compared to a base year around 1990 (Figure 6). In 2002 emissions had fallen to around 3% below base year. 2003, however, (not shown in Figure 5) saw a slight increase again, mainly due to increased coal use for electricity and heating, with GHG emissions ending at ca 1,7% below base year and only 1,3% below 2003. The performance of individual states differs widely, but we will not discuss this aspect here.

However, as already mentioned, transport trends were moving in the opposite direction, with the 20% growth for transport representing more than 85% of the negative drag upwards on the GHG emission totals in 2002. This is not necessarily a problem in itself, since neither the individual Kyoto commitments nor the agreed burden sharing among EU states are differentiated across sectors. However, the "behaviour" of the transport sector obviously increases the share of the commitments to be borne by other sectors such as industry, energy and agriculture, or by the use of flexible Kyoto mechanisms for transfer of emission obligations.

Countries (and the EU-15) are also requested to report expected (baseline) outlooks towards achieving their Kyoto commitments between 20082012, with already adopted policies, and also with likely new ones (right hand of Figure 6). The baseline outlook is not too favourable, with GHG

emissions projected to rise slightly again, to hit a target only 1% and not 8% under base year. However, with what is described as "additional measures"— considered likely for implementation in the member states — the 8% target is almost in range. Counting also projected use of the EU GHG emissions trading, in operation now since January 1, 2005, and other flexibility mechanisms the target can be considered as within reach (EEA 2004a).

EU Kyoto Commitments

EU Kyoto Commitments

-20 -10 0 10 %change compared to base year

Fig. 5. Individual Kyoto targets of 23 EU member countries (excluding Cyprus and Malta) and the EU-15





Czeck Rep



















-20 -10 0 10 %change compared to base year

Fig. 5. Individual Kyoto targets of 23 EU member countries (excluding Cyprus and Malta) and the EU-15

Towards Kyoto EU-15

w. adopted measures 2010 = 99

status 2002 = 97,1

w. adopted measures 2010 = 99

w. additional measures 2010= 92,3

status 2002 = 97,1

w. additional measures 2010= 92,3

Kyoto target 2008/2012 = 92

Kyoto target 2008/2012 = 92

999999999 999999999

000000000 ooooooooooooo

Fig. 6. Projected change in EU-15 GHG emissions with adopted and "additional" measures compared with base year, Kyoto target and actual progress to 2002 (Source: EEA 2004)

Considering again transport only, this sectors' GHG emissions are projected to rise by as much as 34% from the base year to 2010 if counting only already adopted measures, indicating that transport has so far not been severely "hit" by climate policies, to say the least, while the "additional" measures proposed could stabilise the share of transport at its present +22% above base year, indicating that transport will have to be given much more attention already over the next few years. However, the EEA's review reveals that only three or four countries at this stage plan to implement what is called "integrated transport policy" (EEA 2004a, p 36). Most countries appear so far to rely much on initiatives taken at EU level (see Section 10.4).

While transport is a growth sector in most EU member states, the specific climate policy implications could well differ substantially among them. It could be speculated that a push for new initiatives in this sector will soon emerge in countries where the transport contribution to GHG emission burdens are most strongly felt. That could for instance include

Largest transport shares of GHG emissions

Luxemburg Sweden France Latvia Austria

Largest transport GHG growth rates

Ireland Luxemburg Portugal Czeck Austria

Fig. 7. Five EU members with highest transport GHG share and highest transport GHG growth rate, respectively. Data are for 2002 and the 1990-2002 period respectively. (Source: eEa 2004a)

countries with a large transport share of the overall GHG budget, such as "nuclear electricity" states like Sweden and France, or countries with extreme transport GHG emission growth rates, such as Ireland and Portugal (see Figure 7)2 or countries likely to "overshoot" their general Kyoto tar

2 This speculation draws from what has been dubbed the "problem pressure" hypothesis in environmental policy research. Another hypothesis (dubbed "Innova-

gets with a big margin. We will not pursue such speculations further in the present paper but simply note that (more detailed) system indicators could be used as tools for explorative policy research.

Summing up, the transport system indicators for Europe selected here do not at all point towards sustainability if such a vision would imply reductions in GHG emissions or in the dependence on non-renewable energy resources. While several countries may safely reach their present targets under the Kyoto Protocol without a need to further "disturb" the transport sector, the widely perceived unsustainability of the transport situation in Europe, together with the particular transport predicaments of at least some member countries, suggest that the sector will continue to attract political attention, even in the short run.

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