‘Wake-up call’ as transport becomes biggest emitter in Europe

Fears that Europe’s transport is still lagging behind other industrial sectors in tackling climate change have been confirmed by the latest data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Its data show greenhouse gases from transport have grown for the first time since 2007. T&E says the figures are worse than the EEA says, and calls on the EU to take ‘ambitious’ action.

Transport had previously performed worse than other sectors in reducing its emissions, but now the trend is in the wrong direction. Data from 2014 shows greenhouse gas emissions from all transport modes increased by 0.6% to 1,153 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, while emissions in other sectors decreased. This makes transport the single biggest contributor to climate change in Europe.

T&E warned that the figures are likely to be around 6% worse than published, as biofuels used in transport are counted as zero-carbon and hence ‘disappear’ from the numbers, despite the fact that most biofuels used in Europe are worse for the climate than their fossil equivalents.

T&E director Jos Dings said: ‘These numbers serve as a wake-up call to those who thought Europe was turning the corner on transport emissions. This adds urgency to the Commission’s strategy to decarbonise transport, which was published in July. It needs to be ambitious because quite simply transport is now Europe’s biggest climate problem.’

The EU’s official greenhouse gas inventory includes emissions from aviation and shipping, but only on intra-EU journeys. When international emissions are added, the share of transport in the EU’s total CO2 emissions now stands at an all-time high of 30.8%, with aviation and shipping contributing 7.3% of that.

Efforts to tackle emissions from international aviation and shipping have been entrusted by the Kyoto protocol and subsequent agreements to the UN agencies, ICAO and IMO, yet these have achieved virtually nothing and have a record of rejecting or delaying action. T&E says continuing to outsource climate policy on aviation and shipping to these agencies would be ‘a clear betrayal of the EU’s Paris commitments’.