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Campaigners warn of failure to reduce Europe’s ‘rampant’ transport emissions

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Campaigners warn of failure to reduce Europe's 'rampant' transport emissions

The failure to tackle “uncontrolled” transport emissions in Europe could lead the sector to release almost half of the continent’s global warming pollution by 2030, a report found.

Driven by polluting cars and pushed even higher by the growing thirst for flights, Europe’s transport emissions have increased by 26% since 1990 – even as efforts to clean up other sectors of the economy have led to an overall drop in emissions.

If policies continue to clean up transport more slowly than other sectors, such as electricity and industry, greenhouse gases emitted when Europeans travel could account for 44% of the continent’s total emissions by end of the decade, according to the campaign group’s modeling. Transport & Environment (T&E).

Transport is the “problem child” of European climate efforts, said William Todts, executive director of T&E. “The good news is that transport emissions in Europe have peaked. The bad news is that other sectors are decarbonizing three times faster. »

The report estimates that current policies would reduce transport emissions by 8% by the end of the decade, as traditional automobile fleets continue to burn oil, shipowners have little incentive to manage their operations more efficiently, and airport expansion and fuel demand. flights offsetting gains from adopting greener fuels. He calls on policymakers to “make it easier” by stopping the growth in transport demand.

Among the report’s recommendations are changing taxes on company cars to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, encouraging the maritime sector to use efficient technologies, reducing business flights and building fewer roads and airports.

Giulio Mattioli, a transport researcher at the University of Dortmund who was not involved in the study, said the results of the analysis seemed plausible and the policy recommendations reasonable.

He said: “The report highlights something very important, that emissions from transport have increased over time, unlike emissions from other sectors, and that this growth is mainly due to an increase in activities travel, which has more than offset technological improvements. »

“This is a topic that is rarely raised in public, political and media debates – and I have the impression that the public is largely ignoring it. »

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The report also reveals that current policies aimed at reducing emissions in the transport sector will not be enough to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Compared to their 1990 levels, which countries have taken as a benchmark for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, transport emissions in Europe are on track to fall by 25% by 2040 and by 62% by 2050.

Mattioli said: “Some argue that it’s OK if transportation emissions don’t decrease, or even increase, while we make progress in other sectors. This report shows that…this argument will be increasingly difficult to defend.”

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