Transport still dragging down EU climate effort

A new report on Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions says the EU must take action to get transport under control. The report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows average long-term emissions are going down, but road, ship and air transport are still dragging down the overall achievement, and contributed to a small rise in 2015.

The latest EEA report covers the year 2015. Total greenhouse gas emissions for the year were 23.6% below 1990 levels, or 1,336 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. All industrial sectors posted reductions for the period 1990-2015 except road transport and refrigeration and air conditioning. However, emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning decreased in 2015, ending an almost exponential increase of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions since 1990.

But emissions increased by 0.5% (23mt) between 2014 and 2015, the first increase since 2010 and reversing a 4% fall between 2013 and 2014. The EEA report says: ‘Higher emissions were caused mainly by increasing road transport, both passenger and freight, and slightly colder winter conditions in Europe, compared to 2014, leading to higher demand for heating..’

Much of the overall reduction in climate changing emissions has come from the EU’s efforts to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency, but transport is still spoiling the party. The EEA highlights that improvements in the fuel efficiency of cars, vans, trucks and aircrafts were not enough to offset the additional emissions caused by a higher demand in both passenger and goods transport. Road transport’s emissions went up for a second year in succession by 1.6%. Emissions from aviation, which represent almost 4% of EU’s total emissions, increased by 3.3% in 2015.