EU Transport Emissions Ticked Up in 2015

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Greenhouse gas emissions from transport across the EU grew by 0.5 per cent in 2015, bucking a five year downward trend, latest statistics reveal.

European Environment Agency (EEA) figures published yesterday suggest the rise in emissions was largely driven by an increase in both passenger and freight road transport, as well as slightly colder winter conditions and higher demand for heating compared to the previous year.

According to the EEA, fuel efficiency gains made in recent years from new vehicles and aircrafts have not been enough to offset emissions caused by higher demand in both passenger and goods transport.

Road transport emissions, which are responsible for around 20 per cent of the EU’s total greenhouse gases, increased for the second year running in 2015 with a 1.6 per cent rise.

Meanwhile, emissions from aviation – representing around four per cent of EU emissions – also saw a rise in the latest figures, growing by 3.3 per cent in 2015.

Despite the rise in transport emissions in 2015, however, the latest figures provide further evidence of the decoupling of greenhouse gas increases from economic growth.

That year saw the EU’s strongest annual economic growth at 2.2 per cent, yet overall greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors across the continent only increased slightly following a four per cent decline in emissions in 2014.

Overall, the latest greenhouse gas statistics covering show that from 1990 to 2015 total emissions across Europe have fallen by 22.1 per cent, which would surpass the EU’s target of a 20 per cent cut by 2020. Over the same period, meanwhile, the EU economy grew by around 50 per cent.

In February, a report by the European Commission said the EU was on track to meet its renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2020, partly as a result of a strong period of delivery for renewables projects.

EEA said the overall downward trend on emissions was in part due to national policies, increases in renewable energy use, a general move towards more service-led economies and milder winters.