United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

European Union

Mister chairman,
Sustainable mobility forms an essential part of a sustainable world - the world the Rio
Declaration on Environment and Development aims for.
Affordable, accessible and clean mobility is an important condition for sustainable
environmental and economic development in a globalised world and plays a crucial role in
an inclusive society.
Currently, the transport sector is the fastest growing economic sector in most
developing countries and the largest end-user of energy in many developed countries.
The transport sector in the EU, for example, has the highest growth rate of greenhouse gas
emissions compared to 1990 levels among all sectors and is still to 97% dependent on fossil
The growth in transport worldwide is due to a rise of mean living standards, the
increase of international trade, tourism and economic globalization. But, it causes
significant environmental problems, for instance air pollution and noise.
Furthermore, land-using demand for the expansion of transport infrastructure can
lead to a loss of habitats and retreat from animals and plants.
Besides, with a growth in traffic the risk of congestion and accidents increases
worldwide. Road traffic accidents are likely to become the 3rd most important cause of
injuries worldwide by 2030.
The Agenda 21 has already aimed at a more effective design and management of transport
systems and recommended specific goals and activities, but they have only received limited
attention until now.
The Copenhagen Accord 2009 sets a global goal of limiting the global warming to 2°C.
The 2008 European Union?s Energy and Climate Package includes a unilateral commitment
to reduce EU-27 GHG emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
The transport sector has a significant role to play in the efforts to meet these targets.
Transport systems depend on multiple factors, including the pattern of human
settlements and consumption, the organization of production and the availability of
different transport modes.
Mobility contributes to economic growth, but at the same time causes environmental
impacts. Therefore, we see big challenges:
 in the global motorization,
 in the growth of international freight transport,
 in the technology development and how to link it with new transport patterns,
 and also regarding financing sustainable transport.
In order to achieve the goal of a worldwide mobility consistent with sustainable development
all environmental, economic and social aspects of transport need to be considered. An
integrated approach is needed that allows for economic development while protecting the
means of livelihood of future generation.
Too much traffic can endanger mobility. Focusing on satisfying people?s needs in daily life
requires measures that are beyond road construction.
Thus, not only technical measures are required to achieve sustainable mobility. There is
a need to provide better mobility choices for people and better logistics for goods.
Best practices/lessons learnt
The EU has laid down ambitious objectives and targets in order to achieve sustainable
development, e.g. in the field of GHG emissions, air quality and noise. All sectors, including
the transport sector, have to contribute to reaching them. Moreover the EU has set a EUwide
target to halve the number of road fatalities between 2001 and 2010.
The EU has already implemented various measures to make transport more
environmentally friendly and energy efficient. The measures concentrate mainly on
technical standards and market based instruments such as fuel taxes, road pricing and
emissions trading scheme.
Stricter Euro emission standards have contributed to an improved air quality in
European cities. A regulation on CO2 standards for new passenger cars and in the near
future for small vans aims at making the European vehicle fleet more energy efficient.
Market opening and common standards on railway transport technology and safety are
improving performance and competiveness of railway transports across the borders within
the EU.
Minimum rates of energy taxation create a level playing field in terms of competition across
borders within the EU and contribute to decreasing CO2 emissions.
The amendment of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) Directive includes aviation in
the ETS and applies to all arriving and departing flights in the EU from 2012.
What remains to be done?
Despite these efforts there is still a lot to be done to achieve sustainable mobility
especially to decouple transport growth from its negative effects on environment
and health. We need to develop and promote transport solutions that contribute to
worldwide economic growth and welfare in a more sustainable way and we have to start
We need to apply a wide range of policy instruments, including appropriate
(international) regulatory measures, economic incentives, funding of research, information,
mobility management etc.
A more integrated strategy is necessary. We need to consider sustainable
transportation, land use and spatial planning in an integrated manner. An efficient
transport system is an important part of the development of sustainable cities. Public
authorities and companies should take into account the consequences of their choices in
terms of travel needs of clients and employees in addition to the transport of goods.
So let me now highlight the key messages of the EU
1 - Transport demand must be optimize
Progress in efficiency and the cleaning up of transport is offset by the ever increasing
demand for transport, especially the growth of the global vehicle fleet. Moreover, growing
transport infrastructure uses land and endangers ecosystems.
More attention should thus be given to exert influence on demand. Therefore, well
designed and integrated policies have to manage the growing demand for transport.
Transport demand is mainly created outside the transport sector and results from
policy activities concerning economy, agriculture, settlement tourism, finance and
education. Policies in these sectors should contribute to a sustainable development in
Public awareness and acceptance, including sustainable and attractive travel options, is
crucial to promote and facilitate behavioural change.
External costs across all transport modes have to be internalised, e.g. through road
pricing, energy taxation, emission trading systems or other appropriate market based
2- Sustainable transport systems and mobility habits are needed
Sustainable mobility needs more and better mobility choices for people and better
logistics for goods.
We have to think about further promoting sustainable forms of mobility including
multi-modal operations that allow people and industry to use mobility forms and means of
transport in an economically and ecologically responsible manner.
Especially in urban areas and cities public transportation, non-motorized modes and
mobility management need to be fostered. Physical activities such as walking and cycling
can contribute to an improved public health. Smarter and integrated urban planning provides
better access and reduces transport demands and can help reduce the negative effects of
traffic and save energy.
Additionally, efficient co-modality approaches ensure better moving of people and goods by
connecting transport means and optimising the user?s choice of modes. Ecodriving should be
applied and promoted in all modes of transport.
3- Transport must be de-carbonised.
We need a transition to highly efficient transport systems with low or near-zero GHG
emissions. They should meet the demand for transport services at least cost including all
internal and external costs.
Ambitious objectives in the transport sector are essential.
The deployment of efficiency potentials of conventional propulsion systems as well as
development, deployment and transfer of new technology are key factors for a
sustainable transport system.
A wide range of other actions can be taken to reduce fossil energy use and greenhouse
gas emissions in the transport sector. These can include the use of sustainably produced
bioenergy and non-technical measures such as changes in logistics and production
As sustainable production of bioenergy should be ensured worldwide, the EU stresses the
importance of this both internally through its own sustainability criteria and internationally
by welcoming ongoing international work on the sustainability of biofuels, inter alia by the
Global Bioenergy Partnership.
4- Transport modes must become cleaner, quieter and safer.
It is essential to reduce air polluting emissions from all transport modes. Although
transport-related emissions will decline in most developed countries over the next two
decades (due to low sulphur fuels, more stringent emissions standards, improved
technology), urbanized areas remain a problem. Especially, NOx emissions and fine particles
(PM10, PM 2.5) need to be further reduced.
Noise pollution from traffic has to be further reduced as it causes negative health
impacts and reduces the acceptance of traffic.
As the UNGA resolution in February 2010 proclaims the period 2011-2020 as the Decade of
Action for Road Safety we also call for more activities conducted at the national,
regional and global levels in the field of transport safety.
And actually, to complement this point, the European Commission just released
yesterday a new European strategy for encouraging the development and use of clean
and energy efficient vehicles. The strategy contains an Action Plan of concrete
measures on vehicle emission reduction, guidelines for demand-side incentives and
support of research and innovation in green technologies.
5- We need to facilitate global solutions.
Sustainable transport contributes significantly to the achievement of the Millennium
Development Goals.
Transport innovation in Europe acts as a model for many developing and emerging
Demonstration and know-how transfer of sustainable, low-carbon transport systems is
essential to react to ongoing rapid fossil-fuel motorization trends in the developing
world. We especially recognise that the establishment of efficient, affordable, reliable and
sustainable transit transport systems and facilitation are key issues for developing countries.
Capacity development is a key to achieving more sustainable transport systems.
Official development aid is important to achieve sustainable development and many
promising projects and initiatives have been initiated. But, transport is still underrepresented
in climate funds.
Low or even subsidized fuel prices are a major barrier for implementation of sustainable
transport policies: In accordance with the resolution of the G20 Pittsburgh Summit from
September 2009 on the cut of fossil fuel subsidies, development partners should strive to
identify and eliminate these subsidies and to implement reasonable taxation policies as well
as transparent pricing mechanisms.
I thank you for your attention