Sufficiency in transport policy – an analysis of EU countries’ national energy and climate plans and long-term strategies

eceee 2021 Summer Study proceedings - Panel: 6. Transport and mobility

On the pathway to climate neutrality, EU member states are obliged to submit national energy and climate plans (NECPs) with planned policies and measures for decarbonization until 2030 and long-term strategies (LTSs) for further decarbonization until 2050. We analysed the 27 NECPs and 15 LTSs submitted by October 2020 using an inter-rater method. This paper focuses on energy sufficiency policies and measures in the transport sector.

We found a total of 236 sufficiency policy measures with more than half of them (53 %) in the transport / mobility sector. Additionally, we found 41 measures that address two or more sectors (cross-sectoral measures). From the explicit sufficiency measures within the transport sector, 82 % aim at modal shift. A reduction of transport volumes is much less addressed. Countries plan to use mainly fiscal and economic instruments. Those are in many cases investments in infrastructure of low-carbon transport modes and taxation instruments. Plans on decarbonisation measures are also frequently mentioned. The majority of cross-sectoral measures are carbon taxes or tax reforms, also economic instruments.

On the one hand it is encouraging that Member States strongly emphasize the transport sector in their NECPs and LTSs – at least quantitatively and concerning sufficiency measures – because this sector has been the worst-performing in climate mitigation so far. On the other hand, the measures described seem not sufficient to reach ambitious climate targets, and we doubt that the presented set of policy instruments will get the transport sector on track to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in the necessary extent.