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Decarbonising road transportation

Road transport has, far and away, the largest carbon footprint of all modes of transport. This is unsurprising given society’s heavy reliance on privately owned cars, buses and lorries to move people and goods. Worldwide, road transport accounts for 12% of global emissions and about a fifth of emissions in the European Union.

In the EU, progress has been made in the introduction of emissions standards and the increased uptake of electric vehicles, however emissions levels for road transportation still remain stubborn. This is partially due to the steady increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, with passenger car emissions in the EU increasing by 5.7% since 2000. Meanwhile heavy duty vehicles are responsible for 27% of climate emissions from road transport, with trucks and buses having a bigger climate impact than all the flights within the EU. 

Road transportation is also a leading cause of air and noise pollution, which are harmful to people’s health. Many lower income people and rural populations continue to experience transport poverty and cannot access certain economic and social services due to a lack of transport options. 

Stubbornly high emissions from road transport was the motivation behind the creation of the Emissions Trading System for road transport (ETS2), starting in 2027. By putting a price on CO2 emissions from road transportation, member states are encouraged to increase their ambition and strengthen policies to decarbonise the sector. The ETS2 and the newly created Social Climate Fund will provide revenue to member states to increase investment in low-carbon transport and to combat transport poverty.

Carbon Market Watch encourages and supports the rapid decarbonisation of the road transport system internationally and within the EU.

What is CMW doing about it?

When it comes to road transport, Carbon Market Watch focuses on:

  • Promoting the rapid decarbonisation of the road transport sector
  • Monitoring the legislative process and implementation of ETS2for road transport
  • Tracking the guidelines on the spending of ETS2 revenue and the Social Climate Fund to ensure a just transition
  • Building civil society knowledge on the role of carbon pricing in achieving the decarbonisation of road transport and increasing the capacity for NGOs to advocate for equitable and effective ETS2 implementation at national level

“The creation of the Emissions Trading System for road transport (ETS2) is a positive step towards the deep decarbonisation of road transport emissions. However, ETS2 will not be enough alone. “

Eleanor Scott

Expert on carbon markets

“The creation of the Emissions Trading System for road transport (ETS2) is a positive step towards the deep decarbonisation of road transport emissions. However, ETS2 will not be enough alone. “

Eleanor Scott

Expert on carbon markets

What changes is CMW demanding?

An ETS2 that decarbonises road transport in a fair and effective manner that maximises the benefits to the climate and people.

The correct policy mix to complement ETS2, including investing in alternative modes of low/no carbon transport and promoting active transportation, such as cycling.

Spending ETS2 and Social Climate Fund revenue to help decarbonise road transport and reduce transport poverty.

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EU ETS key policy and advocacy milestones

This timeline of future EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) policy milestones is useful for civil society organisations and activists to identify moments for advocacy activities.

Highlighted

Passenger car emissions in the EU have risen by 5.7% since 2000

Contact our experts

Sam Van den plas
Policy Director

sam.vandenplas[at]carbonmarketwatch.org

Eleanor Scott
Expert on EU Carbon Markets

eleanor.scott[at]carbonmarketwatch.org

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