The European Commission adopted a white paper in 2011 in order to enhance a competitive transport system ensuring sufficient mobility, removing major barriers in key areas and support growth and employment. At the same time, the aim was to decrease Europe’s dependence on imported oil and by 2050 cut carbon emissions in transport by 60%. The 60% cut in transport GHG emissions included some specific targets for 2050:
- No more conventionally-fuelled cars in cities.
- 40% use of sustainable low carbon fuels in aviation; at least 40% cut in shipping emissions.
- A 50% shift of medium distance intercity passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and waterborne transport.
- All of which will contribute to a 60% cut in transport emissions by the middle of the century.
The white paper has since 2011 undergone several amendments through various mobility packages. The latest mobility package presented in September 2017 addresses a new indutrial policy strategy which completed the process initiated by the 2016 Low Emission Mobility Strategy and the previous Europe on the Move packages from May and November 2017. The third amendment included:
- A road safety policy framework for 2020-2030 based on legislative initiatives on vehicle and pedestrian safety, and on infrastructure safety management;
- A Connected and Automated Mobility for autonomous and safe mobility systems;
- Legislative CO2 standards for trucks based on their aerodynamics, on tyre labelling and on a common methodology for fuels price comparison. This was accompanied by a Strategic Action Plan for Batteries. These measures confirmed the EU’s objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport and meeting the Paris Agreement commitments.
- Two legislative initiatives establishing a digital environment for information exchange in transport.
- A legislative initiative to streamline permit procedures for projects on the core trans-European transport network (TEN-T).
The aim was to form a consistent set of policies addressing the many interlinked aspects of the mobility system. Global competitiveness should improve meanwhile the very ambitious GHG targets remains.
In total, transport accounts for a quarter of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions which continue to grow as an effect of mainly fossil driven mobility and logistics improvements. The existing 2030 GHG targets of a 40% cut in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels is increasingly challenging. There has however been significant cuts of GHG emissions in the EU since 1990, even though the more severe challenges remain ahead. Between 1990 and 2018, the EU reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 23%, while the economy grew by 61%.
In respect to the overall development of GHG emissions the European Environmental Agency states that:
- In 2017, 27 % of total EU-28 greenhouse gas emissions came from the transport sector (22 % if international aviation and maritime emissions are excluded). CO2emissions from transport increased by 2.2 % compared to 2016.
- Emissions from transport (including international aviation but excluding international shipping) in 2017 were 28 % above 1990 levels, despite a decline between 2008 and 2013.
- International aviation was responsible for the largest percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels (+129 %), followed by international shipping (+32 %) and road transport (+23 %). However, EEA estimations show that emissions from transport (including aviation) decreased by 0.7 % in 2018.
- Emissions need to fall by around two thirds by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, in order to meet the long-term 60 % greenhouse gas emission reduction target as set out in the 2011 Transport White Paper.
Based on insufficient GHG emission cuts the European Parliament declared a climate emergency in Europe and globally in November 2019. The members of the European Parliament also asked for all relevant EU legislative and budgetary proposals to be fully aligned with the objective of limiting global warming to under 1.5 °C. Linked to this the Commission proposed the European Green Deal on 11 December 2019.
The European Green Deal is a growth strategy for the EU that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, improving the quality of life of current and future generations, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. The European Green Deal reaffirms the Commission’s ambition to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
The Green deal includes an update of the EU’s climate ambition for 2030, with a 50-55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions to replace the current 40% objective.
The climate target 2050 is to become a Climate neutral region i.e. a ≈ 95% cut in GHG [CO2e wtw] from 1990 levels.
In practice the Green deal will require significant measures, in particular within the transport sector:
- The existing agreed CO2 emission standards for cars, the automotive sector will once again be in the commission’s firing line. The current objective is to reach 95gCO2/km by 2021 will onwards be to “work towards zero,” sometime in the 2030s”.
- Electric vehicles will be further encouraged with an objective of deploying 1 million public charging points across Europe by 2025. “Every family in Europe needs to be able to drive their electric car without having to worry about the next charging station,” according to EU officials.
- “Sustainable alternative fuels” – biofuels and hydrogen – will be promoted in aviation, shipping and heavy-duty road transport where electrification is currently not possible.
- The present modal shift targets may be scrutinized in order to support the very ambitious green deal targets. The present modal shift targets are:
- 2030; 30% rail freight transport (presently below 20%)
- 2050; 50% rail freight transport
Since transport is one of the sectors within the EU that increases its GHG emissions, existing targets are likely to undergo continuous development and follow-up in the coming years.
The Green deal implementation will be carried through the proposed EU Climate Law on 4 March 2020 to ensure a climate-neutral European Union by 2050. The Climate Law has to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers through the ordinary legislative procedures. Read the climate law proposal
Now in a completely new pandemic situation there is an urgent need to proceed with the Green deal as well as combat Covid-19 and its negative effects. In a debate the Environment Committee says the EU must remain firm on climate change and the timetable foreseen for the Climate Law. The European Parliament called on the Commission to propose a recovery and reconstruction package that “should have at its core the Green Deal and the digital transformation in order to kick start the economy.”
The first Vice President of the European Commission stated “the European Green Deal is not a luxury, but a lifeline to get out of the corona virus crisis. Pan-European answers are needed and a green recovery is not only possible but crucial, as Europe would lose out twice if we mobilise investment to restore the old economy before we make it green and sustainable.”