Ricardo Energy & Environment was a significant contributor to ‘The Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) 2012’, the flagship transport report that was published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in November.
The report presents the most relevant and up to date information on the main issues regarding transport and the environment in Europe. It covers areas with specific policy targets such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, transport demand levels and noise. This year’s report includes a special focus on the transport sector's impact on air pollutant emissions and air quality. It discusses the contributions made by all modes of transport to direct air pollutant emissions and also to 'secondary' air pollutants formed in the atmosphere. Alongside the recently published ‘Air quality in Europe - 2012 report’, TERM 2012 aims to inform the European Commission’s review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution.
The EEA’s annual TERM report uses data from a set of indicators to monitor and assess the environmental impact of transport across Europe. There have been some improvements over recent years, although these can be partly attributed to reduced economic activity during the recession. As the economic climate improves, the new European Union transport targets should focus efforts to further reduce environmental impacts, the report says.
Although air pollution has decreased over the last two decades, it is still a major problem in many areas. ‘Euro standards’ for vehicles have not succeeded in reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions to the levels set out in the legislation although they have made substantial improvements to other aspects of air quality overall.
Emissions standards for diesel engines, which were based on laboratory tests, have not delivered the anticipated results under real-world conditions. While a reduction in air pollutant emissions over the conditions of the tests has been achieved, the emissions standards have not always produced a corresponding decline in real-world emissions and ground level concentrations of air pollutants.
The report concludes that, overall, the challenge remains to prevent an increase of negative environmental impacts once the economic climate improves across the EU. Action to reduce emissions from vehicles through shifting to alternative modes, and to cleaner fuels and improved vehicle technology, should be complemented by better managing transport demand.
Click here to read the report.