Freight transport pushes up German climate emissions

Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2016 will show an increase on 2015, and growing freight transport is a major factor. The figures come from calculations by the country’s environment agency and are backed up by a study undertaken for the German Green party, showing that Germany is falling behind the clock in meeting its 2020 emissions reduction target. Other figures show transport is now the leading emitter of greenhouse gases for the first time in the UK, too.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) calculates that, in 2016, more than 900 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted in Germany, around 4 million more than in 2015. Its figures show transport was the sector with the biggest increase: emissions went up by 5.4 million tonnes, an increase of 3.4% over 2015, thanks to more diesel being used and road haulage growing by 2.8%. UBA said efficiency improvements in vehicle technology have been wiped out by the growth in traffic on roads.

The figures were backed up by a study for the Green Party. As well as the rise in transport emissions, it attributes the rise in greenhouse gases to the growth in German GDP, which in turn has increased consumption of oil and gas. This has taken emissions back up to levels last recorded in 2009, the last year before Germany committed to an energy transition (‘Energiewende’) which will see it close all its nuclear power stations by 2022.

Meanwhile figures from the UK show that transport has become the biggest emitting sector of the British economy for the first time, accounting for 32% of emissions. Provisional data published by the ministry for energy show the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 6% in 2016, mainly because of a move away from coal in the power sector. But transport showed a 1% rise to 119.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent for the year, keeping it only fractionally below the levels it recorded in 1990.

T&E published an analysis in June that showed that transport is now Europe’s largest climate problem, once emissions from aviation and shipping are included, together with the true climate impact of biofuels.