Decarbonisation of European transport

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Volume 2, Issue 4  September 2017

Transport currently contributes to roughly a quarter of the total EU man-made greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). It is also the only EU sector where the GHG emissions have risen since 1990 (+23% by volume between 1990 and 2015). The 2011 EU White Paper on transport sets these main objectives:
(1) a reduction of transport (including international aviation, excluding international waterborne transport) GHG emissions by 20% between 2008 and 2030, and by at least 60% between 1990 and 2050; and
a reduction of international waterborne transport emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2050.

It appears, however, that the White Paper objectives are   insufficient to contribute effectively to the commitments made in Paris in December 2015 by the EU and its Member States of “an at least 40% domestic reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 1990”. Moreover, it is unlikely that they could be met with no contribution from international market based mechanisms.

In this context, the European Commission (EC) recently set out a strategy to “accelerate” the shift towards low-emission mobility and “provide Member States and stakeholders with an idea of the different options available” as regards efficiency of vehicles, management of road transport and decarbonisation of fuels. Furthermore, the EC is expected to present proposals on post-2020 emissions standards for cars and vans as well as the first-ever emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

This UPDATE issue focuses on the subject-related studies commissioned by the Policy Department at the request of the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament since the beginning of the present legislature.

Research for TRAN Committee on Decarbonisation in the EU (2017)
This study shows that very significant greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions are still necessary in the transport sector in order to meet EU medium and long-term climate targets. It emphasises that the urgency of swift policy action has increased with the Paris Agreement. The paper also takes stock of the contribution of the different transport modes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, it assesses, quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact of the different strategies/solutions currently implemented in the EU and around the world to reduce these GHG emissions from transport.
The study is available in EN and FR versions.

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Research for TRAN Committee on The Paris Agreement and the EU Transport Policy (2016)
This briefing provides a summary of GHG emissions from EU transport since 1990 and focuses on how transport contributes to the EU’s commitments made during the 2015 Paris Agreement.
As well as detailing the objectives on climate change that the EU has committed to in the past, the paper looks to the future and to the implementation of the EU’s new commitments. Most interestingly, three main challenges are identified regarding the capacity of the transport system to meet the COP21 objectives agreed in Paris.
The briefing is only available in English.

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Research for TRAN Committee on Greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions from EU transport (2015)
This in-depth analysis examines the change in emissions from transport over the last 20 years. It shows that transportation is the only EU sector where GHG emissions have risen since 1990.
It also demonstrates that, conversely, transportation has significantly reduced its emissions of atmospheric pollutants in the past two decades but that it remains a major cause of air pollution, especially in urban areas. The ever increasing number of diesel engines and booming air and maritime transport have a negative impact in this respect.
Furthermore, the paper investigates whether the decline in transport demand/emissions observed since the 2008 economic downturn is only cyclical or is (at least partly) attributable to structural reasons.
The study is available in EN, FR and DE versions.

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Upcoming Research for TRAN Committee on Electric Mobility (expected for the fourth quarter of 2017)
Electric mobility is expected to be more and more an intrinsic part of transport and it is embedded in EU transport policy, especially for urban mobility and road transportation. There are many national and international studies on the topic but, apart from the volume, most are highly scientific in presentation and daunting for a lay audience.
In addition, many of these works have been carried out outside the EU, mainly in China and in the US. An accessible, but rigorous, overview of this literature will benefit Members by presenting in a comprehensive and manageable way a state of play of electric mobility and an overview of future prospects.

Upcoming Research for TRAN Committee on Electric Vehicle Recharging Infrastructure (expected in early 2018)
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) derive all or part of their propulsion from an external electricity source. Although they have been the focus of attention in recent years, their market share is insignificant. The limited availability of recharging infrastructure is sometimes considered an obstacle to the dissemination of PEVs. The study will analyse the challenges of the deployment of such infrastructure within the EU.
It will also provide an overview of existing technologies and discuss related standardisation issues. It will also assess existing business and financing models for the sector. Lastly, the paper will discuss the impact of the recharging infrastructure on the dissemination of PEVs, and the appropriateness of current technologies, business models and public policies.

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