A fundamental transport transformation: Commission presents its plan for green, smart and affordable mobility

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission presented today its ‘Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy’ together with an Action Plan of 82 initiatives that will guide our work for the next four years. This strategy lays the foundation for how the EU transport system can achieve its green and digital transformation and become more resilient to future crises. As outlined in the European Green Deal, the result will be a 90% cut in emissions by 2050, delivered by a smart, competitive, safe, accessible and affordable transport system.

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: “To reach our climate targets, emissions from the transport sector must get on a clear downward trend. Today’s strategy will shift the way people and goods move across Europe and make it easy to combine different modes of transport in a single journey. We’ve set ambitious targets for the entire transport system to ensure a sustainable, smart, and resilient return from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “As the backbone that connects European citizens and business, transport matters to us all. Digital technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way we move, making our mobility smarter, more efficient, and also greener. We need to provide businesses a stable framework for the green investments they will need to make over the coming decades. Through the implementation of this strategy, we will create a more efficient and resilient transport system, which is on a firm pathway to reduce emissions in line with our European Green Deal goals.”

Milestones for a smart and sustainable future

All transport modes need to become more sustainable, with green alternatives widely available and the right incentives put in place to drive the transition. Concrete milestones will keep the European transport system’s journey towards a smart and sustainable future on track:

By 2030:

  • at least 30 million zero-emission cars will be in operation on European roads
  • 100 European cities will be climate neutral.
  • high-speed rail traffic will double across Europe
  • scheduled collective travel for journeys under 500 km should be carbon neutral
  • automated mobility will be deployed at large scale
  • zero-emission marine vessels will be market-ready

By 2035:

  • zero-emission large aircraft will be market-ready

By 2050:

  • nearly all cars, vans, buses as well as new heavy-duty vehicles will be zero-emission.
  • rail freight traffic will double.
  • a fully operational, multimodal Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) for sustainable and smart transport with high speed connectivity.

10 key areas for action to make the vision a reality

To make our goals a reality, the strategy identifies a total of 82 initiatives in 10 key areas for action (“flagships”), each with concrete measures.

Sustainable

For transport to become sustainable, in practice this means:

  • Boosting the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, vessels and aeroplanes, renewable & low-carbon fuels and related infrastructure – for instance by installing 3 million public charging points by 2030.
  • Creating zero-emission airports and ports – for instance through new initiatives to promote sustainable aviation and maritime fuels.
  • Making interurban and urban mobility healthy and sustainable – for instance by doubling high-speed rail traffic and developing extra cycling infrastructure over the next 10 years.
  • Greening freight transport – for instance by doubling rail freight traffic by 2050.
  • Pricing carbon and providing better incentives for users – for instance by pursuing a comprehensive set of measures to deliver fair and efficient pricing across all transport.

Smart

Innovation and digitalisation will shape how passengers and freight move around in the future if the right conditions are put in place. The strategy foresees:

  • Making connected and automated multimodal mobility a reality – for instance by making it possible for passengers to buy tickets for multimodal journeys and freight to seamlessly switch between transport modes.
  • Boosting innovation and the use of data and artificial intelligence (AI) for smarter mobility – for instance by fully supporting the deployment of drones and unmanned aircraft and further actions to build a European Common Mobility Data Space.

Resilient

Transport has been one of the sectors hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many businesses in the sector are seeing immense operational and financial difficulties. The Commission therefore commits to:

  • Reinforce the Single Market – for instance through reinforcing efforts and investments to complete the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) by 2030 and support the sector to build back better through increased investments, both public and private, in the modernisation of fleets in all modes.
  • Make mobility fair and just for all – for instance by making the new mobility affordable and accessible in all regions and for all passengers including those with reduced mobility and making the sector more attractive for workers.
  • Step up transport safety and security across all modes – including by bringing the death toll close to zero by 2050.

Background

With transport contributing around 5% to EU GDP and employing more than 10 million people in Europe, the transport system is critical to European businesses and global supply chains. At the same time, transport is not without costs to our society: greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions, noise, road crashes and congestion. Today, transport emissions represent around one quarter of the EU’s total GHG emissions.

This push to transform transport comes at a time when the entire sector is still reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus. With increased public and private investment in the modernisation and greening of our fleets and infrastructure, and by reinforcing the single market, we now have a historic opportunity to make European transport not only more sustainable but more competitive globally and more resistant to any future shocks.

However, this evolution should leave nobody behind: it is crucial that mobility is available and affordable for all, that rural and remote regions remain connected, and that the sector offers good social conditions and provides attractive jobs.

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