Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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EU Hampers Own Efforts|to Reduce Emissions

(CN) — Politics, limited data and economic concerns are among the factors stifling efforts by the European Union to meet pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its transportation sector.

Findings published Tuesday in the Journal of Transport Geography highlight a series of factors that hinder the EU's attempts to reduce emissions within the transportation sector, critical to global efforts to limit the impact of climate change.

"With the share of transport emissions increasing from 18.8 percent in 1990 to 25.3 percent in 2012 and with the likelihood of this number continuing to rise, it has become crucial to address climate change objectives specifically in the transport sector," said study co-author Scott Cohen.

After interviewing 12 policy officers in three sections of the European Commission - the EU's regulatory and administrative arm - the authors summarized the issues that will make reaching pledges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels more challenging than widely recognized.

Among the conflicts and issues the EU must resolve are its focus on economic goals over environmental ones, a bias toward serving the interests of industry lobbyists, and an underlying hope that new "silver bullet" technologies will help reduce emissions.

A lack of data to indicate whether the EU is on track to meet targets, confusion over who is responsible for policy development, and weak leadership on climate change mitigation for the transportation sector must also be addressed, according to the study.

The 2015 Paris agreement on climate change will officially take effect on Nov. 4, after a coalition of nations representing 55 percent of global emissions agreed domestically to enact their contributions to the treaty and sparked optimism that nations will rally in time to avoid some of the most pronounced environmental issues associated with rising temperatures.

However, multiple studies have suggested that the objectives outlined in the Paris agreement will not prevent the planet from heating to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial averages, which is the primary objective of the treaty.

Even meeting the goals agreed upon in the Paris agreement will be more challenging if the issues outlined in the EU study are not resolved, according to the authors.

"Our study has revealed that there are fundamental problems with the EU's policy processes governing the climate change targets. It is clear that these need to be addressed urgently if we are to have any hope of introducing transport policies that will have any significance in global efforts to mitigate climate change," Cohen said.

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