The transport sectors climate impact
Europe’s transport sector in its current shape is a fundamental threat to any emission reduction targets of the EU, especially when taking developments in central and eastern Europe into account. It is the main cause for the fact that CO2 emissions in Europe are now rising again:
- Between 1990 and 2008, transport emissions increased by 34% while emissions from other sectors decreased by 14%.
- The transport sector’s share in the EU’s overall CO2 emissions was at 29% in 2008 (increased from 21% in 1990).
- In 2008 aviation and shipping accounted for 7.0% of total CO2 emissions, and 24% of transport emissions and the trend is rising.
(Data taken from Transport and Environment’s CO2 emissions from transport in the EU27.)
The development in central and eastern Europe is even more worrisome: While their overall greenhouse gas emissions have fallen, the transport CO2 emissions of the new EU member states (CEE-10, without Bulgaria and Romania) soared by 40% (pdf) in the 1995-2004 period.
Alternatives are desperately waiting for funding
Particularly countries in central and eastern Europe have urgent need for development or modernisation of rail, urban public transport and intermodal transport. Public financing institutions must channel their funding into these areas and phase out support for car manufacture and aviation.
Infrastructure and nature can coexist
Central and eastern Europe exhibits numerous unique and pristine natural habitats, many of them part of the Natura 2000 network. Potential conflicts with transport infrastructure projects are predestined.
Proper planning and environmental assessments can prevent most conflicts but often fail for lack of political will to prioritise environmental over monetary values. All too often, less destructive alternatives are not being examined properly.
Positive examples show that infrastructural needs and environmental concerns can be balanced – often only after significant public pressure and civil society involvement:
Struma motorway vs. Kresna Gorge, Bulgaria
Spearheaded by Bankwatch campaigners and member groups in Bulgaria working together with local communities, the Save the Kresna Gorge campaign has worked to ensure the development of alternative acceptable routes for the Struma motorway outside the gorge.
Via Baltica corridor vs. Rospuda valley, Poland
After many years of NGO campaigning, interventions from the Bern Convention Secretariat, the European Commission and the European Parliament, the Via Baltica corridor project proceeds without harming the unique nature of the Rospuda valley in north-eastern Poland. An alternative route, designed by experts and supported by environmental groups has finally been accepted.