Walking, cycling and public transport remain the “best way” to improve sustainable mobility in cities, despite the growing use of e-scooters and ride-hailing services, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report.
A separate EEA briefing on the environmental and climate impacts of transport found that emissions of greenhouse gases from transport continue to increase, as demand for mobility across Europe keeps growing.
This year’s transport and environment report ‘The first and last mile — the key to sustainable urban transport’ assesses how green and sustainable ‘first and last mile’ transport options like bicycles, scooters or other means of short-distance travel can transform mobility systems in cities.
The report also assesses how innovative urban freight and inner-city delivery services, including the use of delivery drones, can make urban freight transport more sustainable.
“Taken together with public transport, walking and cycling for short city journeys provide the greatest benefits for both human health and the environment in urban areas,” said a summary. “The introduction and rapid uptake of app-based vehicle sharing schemes can also have benefits, however, the report points to studies which show that their impact on the environment is not always positive.
“Especially e-scooter sharing schemes appear to attract users that would have otherwise walked or used public transport. While the use of shared e-scooters generates few direct environmental impacts, their green credentials can be questioned by the substantial negative impacts associated to their materials, their manufacturing and their frequent collection for recharging purposes.”
The report also found that in 2018, the average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars increased for the second consecutive year, reaching 120.4g CO2 per kilometre. Petrol cars are overtaking diesel-fuelled cars in sales of new passenger cars, but the total consumption of diesel fuel keeps increasing. Average CO2 emissions of new vans started to follow a similar upward trend in 2018.
Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased the most rapidly of the transport modes — by an average of over 3% each year since 2013. Greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping increased by 5% in two years (2015 to 2017).
The share of renewable energy used for transport in the EU rose from 7.4% in 2017 to 8.1% in 2018. This is well below the EU target of 10% set for 2020.
More than 27% of European citizens are exposed to transport noise levels of 55 decibels or higher, including 15-20% for road traffic noise alone.