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Success stories within the road transport sector on reducing greenhouse gas emission and producing ancillary benefits

Type: CaseStudy

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On 19 March 2008, the European Environment Agency published a report of six success stories within the road transport sector on reducing greenhouse gas emission, as follows:

  • ecodriving from the Netherlands
  • speed controls in Rotterdam
  • congestion charging in London
  • freight construction consolidation centre in London
  • environmental zone in Prague
  • teleconferencing in the UK


The European Climate Change Programme (ECCP 1) was launched in 2000 and followed by ECCP 2 in autumn 2005. A number of separate working groups were formed to address different issues under these programmes, one of which was a transport sub-group. In its final report this group concluded that there are a number of solid measures taken across different EU Member States (MS) which are not necessarily part of all MS's transportation policies, indicating that significant work needs to be done in identifying and promoting best experiences and practices on a MS level. The EEA therefore commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to undertake a study identifying and reporting on 'success stories' in the road transport sector.

Using reduction of greenhouse gases and additional ancillary benefits as criteria to determine success, TRL undertook an extensive review of case studies from across the EEA member countries by going through more than 10 different data bases. This initial review identified very few good examples of post-implementation evaluation reports, including results on carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions.

Despite these difficulties, TRL found some information in the reports of the effect that the implementation of measures had had on greenhouse gas emission reduction. However, the aims of measures implemented in these cases were primarily to achieve local objectives rather than specifically GHG emission reductions.

The final choice of case studies was, in addition to the criteria on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and ancillary benefits, intended to cover different types of measures. The size of the project limited the total number of 'success stories' identified and reported upon in this study to a total of 6. They represent various levels of implementation (national, local/city level, and organisation/business); a range of target groups (private, public and freight), types of measure (planning, regulatory, economic and information); and types of impact (environmentally friendly vehicles, transport efficiency, mode shift and urban planning). The schemes and their key results in terms of CO2 emission reductions are summarised below:

  • Ecodrive programme, Netherlands: In 2004 ecodriving resulted in a reduction in CO2 emission of between 97 000 and 222 000 tonnes. Although the programme has the potential to have a positive effect on the reduction of greenhouse gas emission, it is expected that further driver training and promotion of the programme will be needed to maintain reduced fuel consumption. To instil the ecodriving principles at an early stage, they should be incorporated in new driver tests.
  • Speed control measure, Rotterdam: This measure has proved successful in reducing emissions in a targeted area (a 3.5 kilometre stretch of motorway) by reducing and strictly enforcing speed limits. Here, CO2 was reduced by 15 % (a saving of approximately 1 000 tonnes) in the first year of scheme operation. However, more widespread controls on speed are required to achieve CO2 emission reduction on a larger scale;
  • Congestion charging, London: The congestion charging scheme in London has been successful in terms of discouraging private car use in favour of public transport, cycling and walking. As a result, scheme implementation achieved a reduction of 16.4 % in CO2 emission in 2003 compared to the previous year (prior to scheme implementation). Similar schemes have been successfully implemented in other cities for example in Stockholm, Oslo and Trondheim. For the two latter cities the main purpose of the scheme was to raise revenues.
  • Environmental zone, Prague: The environmental zone in Prague has been successful in reducing emissions from heavy vehicles entering the city centre area through weight restrictions (estimated reductions of 1 650 tonnes CO2 per year). The measure has encouraged the use of more suitable routes for heavy vehicles, the purchasing/upgrading of fleets to comply with more stringent emission standards or application for permits to enter the city. Environmental zones, or low-emission zones/clear zones, have been implemented in a range of European cities. Sweden was one of the early adopters and implemented low-emission zones, primarily aimed at heavy vehicles, in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg. As in Prague, the zones were enforced through a permit system with manual inspection. At the moment, schemes are being considered in Berlin and London.
  • Freight Construction Consolidation Centre, London: The Freight Consolidation Centre has been successful in minimising the number of larger or half-empty freight vehicles servicing construction centres in the London area by consolidating deliveries and using the 'just-in-time' delivery principle. Compared to the trips that would have previously been made, it is estimated that CO2 emission has been reduced by 75 %. Similar freight consolidation centres have been implemented extensively throughout Europe, including in Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands,
  • Teleconferencing, the United Kingdom: The use of teleconferencing enabled British Telecom to reduce the impact of its business-related travel, both within the United Kingdom and internationally. For 2006 it was calculated that the use of various teleconferencing technologies to replace trips led to a reduction in CO2 emission of just under 100 000 tonnes. However, it is not expected that teleconferencing will replace all business travel within this company, and may not be suitable for other businesses where face-to-face meetings are a necessity.

This study identifies and explores a range of factors contributing to the success of measures. It further discusses factors affecting the transferability of measures to other EEA member countries and looks at the cost effectiveness of mitigations in the transport sector.

Although it was difficult to find projects that had been designed to achieve certain precise targets on greenhouse gas emission reduction, this small study has indicated that it may be possible to achieve such reductions in a cost-efficient way and at the same time achieve ancillary benefits. This report also includes some general recommendations and observations:

  • implementation of accompanying measures is often necessary to achieve full benefit from the projects. These supporting measures may be in the form of additional or alternative public transport services, increases in parking restrictions or prices, access restrictions for certain types of vehicles, introduction of other fees and taxes, and awareness campaigns;
  • strong leadership or strong political acceptance is necessary especially for measures that initially seem controversial, particularly if they result in travel restriction;
  • awareness-raising about the potential benefits when implementing measures are crucial. Awareness raising may be targeted at the public, various media € including printed and television campaigns, the private sector, transport operators, retail, government departments and other stakeholders;
  • many factors can affect the success of measures, for example differences in geography, population density, cultural aspects and affluence (ECCP 2006). Key issues that should be taken into consideration when considering the possibilities of transfer to other cities, regions or countries include the geographic scale, technological and resource requirements, potential legislation, awareness and acceptance issues and operating features.