Transport represents almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the leading cause of air pollution in cities. The transport sector has not seen the same gradual decline in emissions as other sectors: emissions only started to decrease in 2007 and remain higher than in 1990 (see graph below). Within this sector, road transport is the biggest emitter accounting for more than 70% of all GHG emissions from transport in 2014.

With the global shift towards a low-carbon, circular economy already underway, the Commission’s low-emission mobility strategy, adopted in July 2016, aims to ensure Europe stays competitive and able to respond to the increasing mobility needs of people and goods.

Europe’s answer to the emission reduction challenge in the transport sector is an irreversible shift to low-emission mobility. By midcentury, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will need to be at least 60% lower than in1990 and be firmly on the path towards zero—emissions of air pollutants from transport that harm our health need to be drastically reduced without delay.

The Strategy integrates a broader set of measures to support Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy and supports jobs, growth, investment and innovation.

The Strategy will benefit European citizens and consumers by improving air quality, reductions in noise levels, lower congestion levels and improved safety. Consumers will benefit from less-energy consuming cars, better infrastructure for alternative fuels, better links between modes of transport and better safety and fewer delays thanks to the roll-out of digital technologies.

Main elements of the Strategy

The Communication identifies three priority areas for action:

  • Increasing the efficiency of the transport system by making the most of digital technologies, smart pricing and further encouraging the shift to lower emission transport modes;
  • Speeding up the deployment of low-emission alternative energy for transport, such as advanced biofuels, electricity, hydrogen and renewable synthetic fuels and removing obstacles to the electrification of transport;

  • Moving towards zero-emission vehicles. While further improvements to the internal combustion engine will be needed, Europe needs to accelerate the transition towards low- and zero-emission vehicles.

Cities and local authorities will play a crucial role in delivering this Strategy. They are already implementing incentives for low-emission alternative energies and vehicles, encouraging active travel (cycling and walking), public transport and bicycle and car-sharing /pooling schemes to reduce congestion and pollution.

Available funding to support action

The Strategy draws on existing mechanisms and funds. President Juncker’s Investment Plan for Europe plays a significant role, with significant progress already made with projects in the pipeline for funding under the European Fund for Strategic Investment. In addition, EUR 70 billion is available for transport under the European Structural and Investment Fund, including EUR 39 billion for supporting the move towards low-emission mobility, of which EUR 12 billion for low-carbon and sustainable urban mobility alone. Under the research programme Horizon 2020, EUR 6.4 billion is available for low-carbon mobility projects.

The EU is committed to reaching an agreement to address international aviation and international maritime emissions.

Source: European Commission