Irish Examiner 1 April 09
- Irish Examiner, Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Emissions in transport sector soar by 165%
by Ann Cahill Europe Correspondent
IRELAND increased its transport emissions more than any other country in
Europe, up by a massive 165% from 1990 to 2006, compared with an average
of 28% among 28 European countries surveyed.
The head of the European Environment Agency, Professor Jacqueline
McGlade, said the latest figures call into question how serious Europe
is in meeting its commitment to reduce CO2 by up to 30% over the next
Despite technology existing to reduce emissions from transport, very
little is being done to use it, and countries are still using the least
efficient modes to move people and goods, she said when launching the
report, Transport at a Crossroads, in the European Parliament.
The figures for Ireland show the numbers travelling by rail and bus have
dropped over the last 10 years in favour of car travel, while freight
has moved almost totally away from rail to road.
In 1997, about 6.7% of freight was moved by rail, but this has now
fallen to 1.2%, leaving 98.8% of goods being transported by road. At the
same time, investment in roads increased by 500%, while spending on rail
all but halted.
Prof McGlade said: "We know the technology exists to tackle impacts of
the transport sector on Europe’s environment. However, many vehicles
rolling off production lines are anything but green, the freight sector
still favours the least efficient transport modes, and railways across
the EU still do not have a unified system.
"At a time when we need to tackle our economic and environmental
problems through sustainable and green solutions, trends in transport
are pointing in the wrong direction, and will continue to contribute to
air pollution, rising emissions and many negative environmental impacts".
Emissions increased by 26% — more than total emissions from Belgium —
while freight increased by a third — more than Germany’s total freight
transport. Rail freight and inland waterways saw a decline in market
share, while car ownership increased by 22% — in Ireland the increase
The professor said what is needed are well-designed policies to manage
demand for transport, and one way of changing people’s habits is to
increase the cost of travelling by road in a person’s own transport.
A 10% increase in petrol or diesel prices results in a 20% increase in
the number of people travelling by bus.
"We still need clear, measurable, realistic and timerelated targets for
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air emissions and noise from
transport. Perhaps more critically, consumers have indicated through
their reaction to volatile prices last year that fuel and road pricing
clearly has a role to play in tackling transport demand," said Prof McGlade.