Rail sector outlines tough environmental targets
Posted: 28 November 2012 | | No comments yet
Long-term targets to further improve the environmental performance of the rail sector are outlined in a new brochure published…
Long-term targets to further improve the environmental performance of the rail sector are outlined in a new brochure published today by the International Union of Railways (UIC) and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER).
Adopted by the rail sector, the targets represent the improvements the sector feels it can achieve through its own voluntary endeavours, separate to any requirements laid down by EU and member state legislation. They build on the agreement already made in 2008 by rail companies to commit to a sector-wide cut of 30% of specific CO2 emissions from rail traction over the 1990-2020 period.
The brochure coincides with the publication of the European Environment Agency’s 2012 annual TERM (Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism) report. Transport is still responsible for nearly one-quarter of EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the 2011 EU Transport White Paper laid down a reduction target of at least 60% of transport GHG emissions between 1990 and 2050. However, the TERM report points out that transport GHG emissions fell by only 0.4% between 2009 and 2010, and energy consumption in transport actually rose slightly by 0.1% in 2011 compared to 2010.
The brochure ‘Moving towards Sustainable Mobility – A strategy for 2030 and beyond for the European railway sector’ was jointly agreed by members of both UIC and CER to provide a unified approach to sustainability challenges in the rail sector. The strategy is built around four key topics: climate protection, energy efficiency, exhaust emissions, and noise emissions. It sets out objectives for the rail sector to meet by 2030, and more general aims for the longer target of 2050.
- On climate protection: by 2030, the railways will reduce their specific average CO2 emissions (i.e. emissions per passenger-km or tonne-km) from train operations by 50% compared to 1990. They will also not exceed the total amount of CO2 emissions compared to 1990, even taking into account projected growth in rail traffic. By 2050, the railways will aim for completely carbon-free train operation.
- On energy efficiency: by 2030, the railways will reduce their specific energy consumption from train operations by 30% compared to 1990, while by 2050 they aim for this to have reached 50%.
- On exhaust emissions: by 2030, the railways will reduce their total emissions of NOx and PM10 by 40% in absolute terms compared to 2005, while by 2050 they will aim to have zero emissions of NOx and PM10 from trains.
- On noise: by its nature this is a harder area to set targets for, so the railways aim that by 2050, noise and vibrations will no longer be considered a problem for the railways, with noise levels that are socially and economically acceptable and allow for 24-hour passenger and goods operations.
In order to monitor the progress towards the targets, UIC and CER have established an Environmental Target Monitoring System to measure improvements, and a report monitoring progress towards the targets will be produced annually.
CER Executive Director Libor Lochman said: “By establishing its own voluntary strategy, the rail sector is showing that it is a responsible and forward thinking low-carbon mode of transport, whose role should be enhanced as part of the wider move towards cleaner transport. Modal shift to rail from higher-emitting modes could further increase these advantages, and produce the biggest benefit for society and the environment.”