• Client: European Environment Agency
  • Implementation period: 2015 - 2015 (Completed)
  • Geographic coverage: European Union, Denmark, Lithuania, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, France, Spain

What success stories exist for reducing the health and environmental impacts of transport in Europe?

This study compiled cases of actions that can reduce environmental impacts of the transport sector in Europe. The report provides 12 examples of initiatives that aim to reduce the negative health and environmental effects of transport. The initiatives are described as success stories because they show that cities, regions, companies and other organisations can really make a difference. It is good news that the initiatives have reduced health and environmental impacts beyond business as usual improvements. Many of the cases described are quite simple in theory, e.g. ”just” introducing bus lanes, “just” restricting parking, “just” prohibiting pollution vehicles from entering an area, “just” introducing a speed limit, etc. However, far from all cities, regions, or organisations are able to introduce measures of this type. The reason for this is that the implementation processes that the measures require are often quite complicated.

The 12 success stories were selected based on the:

  • Availability of data on the quantified impacts resulting from the action especially relating to long term cost, emission and energy savings.

  • Availability of information on how the case became a reality, i.e. the process covering the timeline, barriers, public opinion, strategies to overcome barriers and lessons learned.

  • A good balance in terms of different transport modes, geographical spread, topics and measures.

Example of action in Barcelona: variable speed limit signal board. Source: Trinomics, 2015.

These cases are extremely varied and sometimes specific to the context to which they were applied. But they kept some similarities among themselves, which are summarized as follows:

  • Reductions in negative environmental impacts beyond business as usual improvements are possible. The cases reveal substantial effects of relatively simple actions.
  • The majority of stories show positive effects beyond the reduction of negative environmental effects. In most cases positive environmental effects go hand in hand with other positive effects like better liveability, better accessibility, etc. These other benefits can often be a key reason why these measures are implemented.
  • There is room and an absolute need for stories outside urban areas. Most of the cases studied were in urban areas, but there is high potential to implement similar measures in rural areas.
  • The future impact of technical measures on air quality will decline. EU emission regulations for vehicles will become stricter over time. This implies that in the future, each vehicle mile will cause less pollution.
  • There is room for improvement in transport sector evaluations.