Surface transport and climate targets

Neither short-term 2030 targets or the long-term 2050 climate targets are realistic without significant transport emissions cuts.

The EU has no legally binding sectoral climate targets for transport within the Climate Action Regulation. However, neither the short-term 2030 CAR target nor the long-term 2050 climate targets are realistic without significant transport emissions cuts, as it is the largest sector within the CAR. According to projections from member states, without additional measures transport emissions will not decrease by 2030. Should transport not reduce its emissions by 30%, other sectors, such as buildings and agriculture, would need to do more.

The good news is that transport has the potential to reduce its emissions by 30% by 2030. Transport emission reductions must be achieved through a range of measures at the EU, national and local levels. However, no sustainable transport policy can be successful without cleaner vehicles and fuels. This means Europe urgently needs to start driving the technology and fuel transition that is needed to decarbonise the light-duty vehicle fleet and significantly reduce heavy-duty vehicle emissions by 2050.

Also, member states have other options in their hands, such as improvements to public transport, walking, cycling, and freight intermodality; fuel-efficient driver training; internalisation of external costs; speed enforcement and harmonisation; and revisions to company-car taxation policies. However, the plans announced so far are insufficient. These are cumulatively of a similar scale to the EU-level measures. Some EU-level and member state policies work well in combination such as vehicle standards and national taxation policies on vehicles. Changes to the Eurovignette Directive and the Energy Taxation Directive can also help internalise external costs. In combination, EU and national-level policies enable transport to be decarbonised in line with 2030 ESD climate targets and ultimately 2050 goals, which are discussed in greater detail in the next section.