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News | 2019-03-07

A trend break is necessary if road traffic climate goals are to be met

The transport sector gives rise to significant carbon emissions. Unlike private motoring where policy instruments are starting to have some effect heavier vehicles emission reductions are coming along at a much slower pace, concludes a Nordic Council of Ministers report, co-authored by IVL.

– In the Nordic countries there is a big gap between the 2030 climate targets and actual emission reductions. If this trend is not checked, neither current nor planned instruments will be sufficient to achieve the 2030 goals, says Anna Mellin, project manager at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and co-author of the Nordic report. A few years back and up until last year, Swedish emissions from heavy road transports have been decreasing, partly due to an increased use of biofuels. New statistics for 2018 show that road traffic emissions in Sweden are now increasing again, and that it is principally heavy goods traffic that is the reason for this. The most obvious way to reduce emissions is to reduce traffic. However, everything suggests that the demand for transport will only intensify in the future, partly due to increased GDP, a rising population and changes in consumption patterns. However, the report indicates that measures aimed at reducing the demand for transport, switching freight transports to trains and ships, and maximizing transport capacity, have only a limited impact on emissions. What is needed are measures that support a technology shift towards fossil-free fuels, the research group says. In general, the cost-effectiveness of the various instruments that have been introduced in the Nordic countries is poorly understood. – There has been no in-depth evaluation of the instruments that have been put in place to reduce climate emissions in the Nordic countries. It is vital that we learn from both good and bad examples if we are to implement instruments that are both effective and practical, says Anna Mellin. Download the report.

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