Cheaper car travel not helping environment, says EEA

The economic downturn of the last three years has contributed to some improvements in the impact of Europe’s transport on the environment, but while car transport has remained steady, train travel has decreased, largely because the cost is rising more quickly than the cost of driving.

These are among the conclusions from this year’s ‘Term’ (Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism) report carried out by the European Environment Agency. It says air quality remains a problem for nearly half the people who live near busy roads across Europe, with increasing transport of goods a major contributor.

The EEA says passenger transport demand fell by just under 1% between 2009 and 2010, but private car use stayed largely steady despite wide fuel price fluctuations. It says buying a car has become steadily cheaper in real terms since the 1990s, while train travel and passenger transport by water have become more expensive.

Greenhouse gas emissions from European transport fell by 0.4% from 2009 to 2010, well below the rate needed to achieve the 68% reduction between 2010 and 2050 set out in the EU’s own target.