Will the European transport sector be able to significantly reduce their emissions by 2050?

The existing literature showed that the technology for achieving substantial reductions in the cost of transport for society are (to some degree) available in society today, even when these do not amount to more than mere prototypes or experimental projects at a high cost. It is likely that by 2030 and 2050, a number of these small and larger innovations will be common-place in society. We have touched on examples of the impressive amount of technological, operational and behavioural innovations (often at an urban level) that may be essential components of a transition towards sustainable mobility. This focus on innovation and efficiency is close to the premise of achieving ‘green growth’ in transport. This can be defined as a situation where the development of the economy and transport system is still ensured, but at a reduced cost for the environment and society as a whole.

Average external cost of road transport in EU-27 excl. congestion. Source: Van Essen H et al, 2011.

The goal of this report was to answer four questions:

  • What does recent research and work supporting policy development suggest about the economic costs and benefits of achieving sustainable mobility, or at least following credible trajectories, towards 2030-2050?
  • What are the main costs and benefits identified with moving towards a more sustainable transport system: e.g. reduction of oil dependency, avoiding health costs, investment in low-carbon technologies, increasing EU industrial competitiveness, job creation within the transport sector, job creation in other sectors as a consequence of increasing budget due to decreasing general transport costs etc.?
  • How comparable are the magnitudes of costs and benefits identified within the research communities? Are there major discrepancies?
  • Who are the main winners and losers from an economic point of view in the transition to sustainable transport?