Transport and environment: on the way to a new common transport policy

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

The TERM 2006 report examines the environmental performance of the transport sector and finds that it is still unsatisfactory. There is a need to intensify efforts to improve it, not least concerning the sector's contribution to climate change. The Commission's mid-term review of the 2001 Transport White Paper proposes changes that can bring both improvements and negative effects depending on how they are applied at European, national and regional level. Concerning the environment, the mid-term review changes the focus from managing transport demand to addressing negative side effects. This change in focus means that transport demand growth is no longer explicitly identified as one of the main environmental issues within the transport sector. However, as the extent of important environmental impacts such as climate change, noise and landscape fragmentation are closely linked to transport volumes, addressing them still requires the management of transport demand. The overall success of the new policy therefore still hinges on limiting (growth in) transport volumes. This is something which the White Paper failed to do. It therefore remains to be seen whether the new elements in the mid-term review concerning the use of scenarios for long-term planning and a common framework for charging can help to improve the situation.

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