European Union’s efforts in lowering CO2 emissions involve also the transport sector. Indeed, growing freight and passenger transport is causing more and more pollution.

The plan that aims at “a gradual transformation of the entire transport system” is consistent with the Energy Union Strategy that aspires to reach sustainability, energy security, and competitiveness.

The European Commission is now committed to create the right market conditions for increasing the use of alternative fuels and promoting the roll-out of intelligent transport solutions. 

The European Commission is acting on two fronts:

  1.  Light-duty vehicles - cars and vans: the ambition is to increase energy efficiency and reduce drastically CO2 emission by setting binding emission targets for new car and van fleets. The Commission will propose the post-2020 targets by the end of 2015. The continuity of the plan is necessary in order to provide the automotive industry with the certainty that is indispensable to carry out long-term investments and develop innovative technologies.
  2.  Heavy-duty vehicles – trucks and buses: the reduction of CO2 emission is not so clear as in the case of light-duty vehicles. Quite the opposite: emissions are still rising, despite more binding constraints on CO2 emissions on new vehicles (as it is happening with light-duty vehicles) and some improvements in fuel consumption efficiency.

The policy options are the following:

a)    To set more mandatory limits on average CO2 emissions from newly-registered heavy-duty vehicles;

b)   To promote the development of a complete modern infrastructure for alternative fuels and electricity followed by a smarter pricing on infrastructure usage.

The second option, that is to build an infrastructure that allows transport electrification, appears to be the most interesting one.

Indeed, whereas the first one has already been widely applied and seems to have already reached (or nearly reached) its maximum potential, the second one is greatly unexplored, due to the high costs that need to be borne by the public administration.

The Energy Union framework strategy then represents a unique opportunity of investment to decarbonise the transport sector, investing more on research and development on topics like alternative fuels and electromobility.

The citizens will only gain from this commitment: certainly from a healthier environment, but also economically. Indeed, a new infrastructure (e.g. fuelling and charging station) will allow more competition among players and will increase the set of choices available to the customer, decreasing the price to the final client.

Transition to transport modes that consume less energy plus the electrification of public and private transport will be the key of EU decarbonisation success?


Eliana Canavesio