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Transport sector to make up half of Europe’s emissions in 2030

According to a recent analysis by Transport & Environment (T&E), transportation alone is projected to account for nearly half of Europe's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.


Since 1990, European transport emissions have surged by over 25%, contrasting with a declining trend in emissions across other sectors. T&E's assessment highlights the urgency for Europe to address its transportation emissions issue to meet its net zero target by 2050.


Despite efforts, the decarbonization of transportation has lagged significantly behind other sectors since its peak in 2007, progressing at a rate more than three times slower. Without additional measures, current climate policies suggest that by 2030, transport's share of GHG emissions could escalate to 44%, up from the current 29%. With transport emissions in the EU surpassing 1000 MtCO2e, equivalent to the combined emissions of Germany and the Netherlands, it's imperative to implement further actions to prevent Europe from falling short of its 2050 net zero objective.


"The good news is transport emissions in Europe have peaked. The bad news is other sectors are decarbonising three times faster. In 2030, nearly half of the continents emissions will come from mobility, making it the problem child of Europes climate efforts. Decarbonising the sector as quickly as possible is now vital if the continent is to reach zero by 2050," stated William Todts, executive director of T&E.


The predominant contributors to transport emissions are vehicles powered by petrol and diesel, constituting over 40% of the total. Reliance on cars has surged since the 1990s, facilitated by extensive motorway construction and a burgeoning car population. Only in recent times have we witnessed a decline in average car emissions with the emergence of a new wave of electric vehicles entering the market.


Over the past three decades, aviation emissions have doubled at a rate surpassing that of any other transport mode. Moreover, the supplementary environmental impact of contrail emissions from aviation has the potential to triple the overall climate impact of air travel.


The analysis examines the effectiveness of the EU's climate regulations in tackling the escalating transport emissions issue. It reveals that these regulations are projected to only decrease transport emissions by 25% by 2040 and by 62% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. Vehicles such as cars, vans, and trucks purchased up to the mid-2030s will continue to operate on European roads, relying on petrol and diesel for an extended period.


Shipping companies lack significant motivation to enhance their operational efficiency, while the surge in airport capacity fuels a growing demand for flights, counteracting any progress made in adopting environmentally friendly fuels during this decade.


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