Absolute decoupling between emissions and passenger transport
Since 2000 the number of passenger-kilometres (road and rail) has increased more than the population. In 2008 passenger transport decreased by 1.2 % due to the financial-economic crisis, and then increased again.
In the period 2000-2010, there was an absolute decoupling between the emissions from passenger transport and the passenger-kilometres. The increasing use of energy-efficient vehicles and biofuels for road traffic had a favourable effect on the greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. Due to the compulsory standards that the EU imposes on car manufacturers for the CO2
emissions from new cars, there were more energy-efficient vehicles on the market. Federal tax stimuli promoted the purchase of these vehicles. In 2010 the average CO2
emissions from new vehicles decreased from 143 g/km to 134 g/km. Renewable energy was responsible for 4.8 % of the total energy consumption of transport in 2010, passenger and freight transport combined. Biodiesel had the largest share of this and bio-ethanol was responsible for about one-tenth. Green power remained marginal. In 2008 the share of renewable energy was only 1.2 %, while in 2009 this was 3 %. The emissions of ozone precursors, acidifying components and particulate matter (exhaust) decreased continuously between 2000 and 2010 due to the tightening of European emission standards for new vehicles and fuels. The lower number of passenger-kilometres in 2008 resulted in a larger decrease in emissions that year. The introduction of Euro 4 and subsequently Euro 5 engines led to a larger decrease in the exhaust emissions of particulate matter in 2005 and 2010.
Only a relative decoupling between greenhouse gas emissions and freight transport
During the last ten years the number of tonne-kilometres of freight transport (road, rail and inland navigation) increased more than the gross domestic product (GDP). The financial-economic crisis caused a reduction in the transport activity and also in the global GDP. The crisis had more impact on freight transport than on passenger transport. In 2010 the market recovered, but only partly.
Although trucks are also becoming more energy-efficient, the greenhouse gas emissions from freight transport were larger in 2010 than in 2000 due to an increase in activity. The emissions, however, increased more slowly than the tonne-kilometres. There was a relative decoupling. As for passenger transport, the emissions of ozone precursors, acidifying components and particulate matter (exhaust) from freight transport decreased between 2000 and 2010 due to tighter European emissions standards. There was an absolute decoupling with the tonne-kilometres. The large decrease in the acidifying emissions and the emissions of ozone precursors in 2009 was not only due to the lower level of activity. The introduction of Euro V engines in trucks also played a role in this. These engines emit less nitrogen oxides than their predecessors. Because of the higher estimated activity of freight transport, probably partly due to a change in the method and partly due to the recovery of the activity, all emissions were higher in 2010 than in 2009. In 2010 freight transport was responsible for the emission of 44 % of the greenhouse gases from the transport sector, 61 % of the acidifying substances, 59 % of the ozone precursors and 53 % of the particulate matter emitted via exhaust. The emissions from aviation and inland maritime shipping were not taken into consideration.