EU countries’ plans to cut transport pollution fall far short of what’s needed to stop the climate crisis

A new climate ranking shows that EU governments’ plans to cut pollution from transport, Europe’s biggest emitter, will fail to meet their own 2030 emissions targets. Only the top 3, the Netherlands, the UK and Spain, scored above 50% in the ranking of draft national energy and climate plans compiled by Transport & Environment (T&E). All countries need to implement far more effective policies than what has been proposed to date to reduce transport emissions.

The Netherlands has pledged that no fossil fuel cars will be sold there by 2030 and to reduce overall transport emissions by 29% compared to 2005 levels. However, its first place in the ranking is contingent on a draft national climate agreement which the government has already said it will weaken. The UK and Spain have similar plans to ban fossil fuel cars by 2040, far too late to decarbonise the whole vehicle fleet by 2050. Britain also leaves the door open for hybrids, and both the UK and Spanish pledges are non-binding.

Of the lower ranked EU countries, Germany (15th) has postponed making decisions until the final version of its plan is published (due before the end of the year). Italy (17th) plans to push gas-powered cars and trucks despite them emitting as much greenhouse gases as petrol and diesel vehicles. Of the bottom two, Bulgaria’s plan contains nothing to cut truck, van, aviation or shipping emissions, while Hungary (28th) says it will grow its transport emissions to 30% above 2005 levels.

Countries must submit their final plan before the end of 2019. While many member states are on track to miss their 2030 climate targets, jeopardising 2050 decarbonisation targets, T&E has shown that it is possible and necessary to decarbonise transport by 2050 at the latest.