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Conference report

Transport and climate change

A Greens/EFA conference on "Transport & Climate Change" was held on the 14th July in the European Parliament. Important presentations highlighting the problems and solutions to tackling growing emissions in the transport sector were delivered to a large audience, which was followed by fruitful discussions of the issues.

Opened by Greens/EFA Co-President, Monica Frassoni, MEP, and chaired by Michael Cramer, MEP, part one of the conference focused on the role of the transport sector in global warming, and the measures which can be taken to reduce its impacts. In her presentation "Climate Change: The Impacts of Transport" Wiebke Zimmer showed that in the EU-25 transport's share of greenhouse gas emissions rose from 17% in 1990 to 24% in 2004. To halt this growth and build sustainable mobility the EU has to develop strategies for transport avoidance and modal shift. In addition, the efficiency of motor vehicles must be improved while taking into account an adapted use of biofuels.

Part two of the conference, chaired by Sepp Kusstatscher, MEP highlighted issues within each transport mode: train, water, cars and aviation. Pierre-André Meyrat's presentation on "Road & rail: role model Switzerland" concretely detailed a successful solution in modal shift whereby Switzerland has managed to transfer a significant part of its container lorry transport to rail.

Freight was also the central topic of the presentation "Water transport: alarming emissions growth" by Silvia Maffii. Sea shipping is by far the most climate friendly mode of transport for goods when measured in terms of emissions per tonne-km (tonnes of goods per km). However, the strong growth in this sector is an issue as little has been done, thus far, to tackle its growing emissions problem.

Axel Friedrich in his presentation "Feasibility of low carbon cars" introduced the topic of individual mobility. He showed that there's technically no problem in producing cars which emit only 80g/km of CO2, and with future developments maybe even well below this figure.

On aviation Jeff Gazzard showed that aviation emissions as CO2 equivalent went from 2.9% in the late 1990's to 4.4% in 2005. He also highlighted the very low taxation rate on aviation in comparison with road transport. Concluding the session Sylviane Lust focused her intervention on the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Urban planning was the centre of part three and chaired by Eva Lichtenberger, MEP. Max Leuprecht detailed the actions undertaken in Munich by his association 'Green City' in order to promote soft mobility solutions like biking. After these concrete examples of sustainable mobility solutions, the European Commission's representatives Marcel Rommerts and Eleni Kopanezou explained the working processes of preparing the Green Paper on urban transport but unfortunately couldn't give any detailed information on the content of this paper, due to be published in late 2007.

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