05 Jan 2011

The EU should not shy away from setting CO2-related targets for transport

Christian Egenhofer

Download Publication


Transport is the only sector in the EU in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Unless this trend can be reversed, the EU will have little chance of reaching its objectives in the context of global obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions between 80% and 95% by 2050 compared to 1990. Many different solutions exist, including, for example, new technology such as electrification of road transport, modal shift, optimising existing technologies and policy measures and more radical measures such as binding GHG emissions targets. While there is some merit to all of these approaches, this Policy Brief argues that current EU policy thinking is not (yet) bold enough to credibly tackle the GHG emissions challenge from transport. It argues that:
• The EU must take GHG emissions from the transport sector more seriously.
• Sound transport pricing is important but it has limitations for the transition to a low-carbon transport system.
• EU-level infrastructure policy is grossly inadequate, mainly but not only in view of the transformation of the EU transport system.
• There is too much (blind) faith in technology solutions, thereby avoiding hard questions on how to curb transport growth.
• Finally, well-designed technology deployment targets are a good way to start the transition to a low-carbon transport system.