We all knew it, and let’s face it - 2019 was the second warmest year on record and the hottest ever in Europe, according to the EU’s earth observation program.
Looking back, the last five years were the hottest since records began in the 19th century with average temperatures between 1.1C and 1.2C higher than pre-industrial times, making the decade 2010-2019 the hottest decade yet.
In light of this, EU has taken proactive action to reduce emissions, by announcing the “European Green Deal” in December 2019. The goal of the European Green Deal is to achieve climate neutrality by minimizing and offsetting GHG emissions through efficient use of resources, investments and legislations.
On 4th March, EU unveiled the first stage of its green deal climate law to raise emission targets every five years onwards from 2030.
According to the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE), transport is the only sector that has increased its emissions on the continent over the past 20 years.
Transport is currently the second-largest GHG-emitting sector after energy production, accounting for nearly 24% of Europe’s GHG emissions. Among all the modes of transportation (excluding aviation), road transport is the main culprit and is responsible for 40% of road emissions in urban and suburban areas.
To address this, the Green Deal aims to reduce GHG emissions by 90% by 2050 via shifting 75% of EU freight traffic from road to rail. The European Parliament also proposed a further GHG emissions reduction by 55% by 2030, a 10% increase from the original plan. If the GHG emissions from transport are contained, Europe will be one step closer to a sustainable future.
Moving Forward: Regulations and Standardization
Moving together with the same goal is not an easy task. Regulations and standardization between member states would be the key. To address this, the Green Deal laid out a comprehensive roadmap – the very first step is to complete the drafting and adoption of necessary implementing regulations by June 16 this year. The draft will include the revised Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) and the development of IT tools that were both required under the revised Interoperability and Safety Directives, and necessary for the new regime.
Sustainable Transport Infrastructure
The EU is also investing over €117 million in 39 key transport projects via Connecting Europe Facilities (CEF), the EU's financial mechanism supporting transport infrastructure.
The investment hopes to build better connections across central Europe with a focus on sustainable transport modes. The projects include noise reduction generated by freight trains, cross-border railway links enhancement and port infrastructure upgrade.
Meanwhile, the Commission is also committed to rallying both private and public sectors on investing in green energy and technology.
Greener Choices Available for Immediate Action
Alongside EU policies and regulations, companies also play a vital role during this transition time to help EU become a neutral state.
One way is to consider diversifying the modes of transportation, with greener intermodal solutions that are readily available.
Today, the rail freight market share only accounts for 16.6% of Europe’s freight transport. The European rail freight sector aims to increase the share to 30% by 2030 - a better macro-economic solution for European transport growth.
Rail has long been a much cleaner mode of freight transport. According to the Voice of European Railways, rail is six times more energy-efficient than road due to physical advantages such as lower rolling and air resistance.
It also helps reduce Europe’s dependence on imported fuels, due to its high energy efficiency and major reliance on electric energy.
While climate change is a pressing issue, 2050 is in fact a distant, long term goal.
Contship, being a long-established intermodal services leader in the region, is ready and committed to partner with shippers and forwarders around the world to work towards a cleaner environment.
This article is part of CS WINdow, Contship Italia Group's quarterly newsletter, featuring insights on the global supply chain, with a focus on European intermodal logistics. You can subscribe to learn more: