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Energy Consumption by European Transport Sector Grew 28.6% Since 1990

23 March 2007

The transport sector is the largest and fastest-growing consumer of final energy in Europe. Click to enlarge. Source: EEA

Final energy consumption in the EU-25 countries increased by 12.6% between 1990 and 2004, according to the European Environment Agency. Between 2003 and 2004, total final energy consumption grew by 1.1%. The fastest growing sector is transport, followed by households and services.

Final energy consumption in the transport sector grew 28.6% in the EU-25 between 1990 and 2004. Improvements in fuel efficiency were offset by increases in passenger and freight transport demand.

Higher transport demand has resulted from increased ownership of private cars, particularly in the new EU Member States, growing settlement and urban sprawl with longer distances and changes in lifestyle. Rapid increases in passenger aviation have been apparent, in part due to the growth of low-cost airlines, which have made this mode of transport more accessible to a larger section of the population. By 2004, transport became the largest consumer of final energy in the EU.

Final energy consumption in industry fell on average during the 1990-2004 period (-4.1%) but increased by 1.4% per year in the last two years, 2002 and 2004.

Household final energy consumption increased by 17.5% as rising personal incomes have permitted higher standards of living, with increases in comfort levels and the ownership of domestic appliances. Space heating and cooling is the most significant component of household energy demand, and can vary substantially from year to year depending on climatic variations. However, it is the demand for electricity from appliances that has increased most rapidly in percentage terms in recent years.

Services final energy consumption (including agriculture and other sectors) grew by 11.9%. This was due to the continued increase in the demand for electrical appliances, in particular information and communication technology (such as computers and photocopiers), and also for other energy-intensive technologies such as air-conditioning.

March 23, 2007 in Europe, Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)


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It should hardly come as a surprise that total both passenger and especially, freight traffic should have increased since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the eastward expansion to a Union of 27 that is home to 500 million people.

For example, VW and others now assemble many of their vehicles in former Communist countries but 80% of the parts still come from suppliers in the West. Most of the vehicles are sold in the West, as well. This has created jobs and prosperity for several of the new members and put much-needed competitive pressure on powerful Western labor unions, but CO2 emissions have gone up as well.

One obvious way to reduce them would be to shift more of the heavy freight (like cars and car parts) back to rail freight. Unfortunately, there are many technological and organizational hurdles to overcome - all of which were put in place deliberately to slow down the invading armies that mercifully haven't come in the last 60 years.

However, the EU Commission is now seeking to raise the
minimum level of diesel fuel tax and force places like hitherto-exempt Luxembourg to levy them. The idea is to curb "fuel tourism" by truckers. This is said to distort the road freight market and generate real additional CO2 emissions.

It also saddles countries with relatively low fuel taxes with higher CO2 emissions than the statistics would otherwise show. For example, Austria will have to shell out approx. EUR 1 billion for emissions certificates to make up for its apparent failure to meet its Kyoto targets - but Germans and Italians that are just passing through tend to fill up here rather than at home.

As a "fringe benefit", raising taxes on diesel would reduce and in some cases eliminate the preferential treatment it currently enjoys over petrol. In some member states, refineries must import additional diesel and sell excess petrol because new vehicle registrations have been skewed toward diesels for so long, with predictable consequences for air quality. Unfortunately, if diesel passenger cars were to lose market share to petrol, it would also mean a further increase in CO2 emissions - even if mild hybrid technology were widely adopted.

When you get politicians to make the decisions rather than the marketplace or the professionals in the business, you get this nonsense. European cities don't pass the smell test; visit there and you can smell the pollution unlike 10 or 15 years ago, from all the diesel smell and soot. This came about from government politicians, creating higher preferential taxes on cleaner gasoline.

I always wonder why the government, which does nothing, should take money from transportation suppliers as a means to somehow "improve" things. I fail to see why the clod who delivered some Paris or Berlin precinct to the governing party makes him qualified to make choices on the technical aspects of pollution.

If you mandate that the proposed or better, current fuel taxes could be spent "in lieu" by suppliers on improvements only, or pay the tax, then we would have more hope for progress.

We would have better vehicles and engine designs and alternatives, more hybrids, cleaner factories, etc. from the vehicle manufacturers. On the fuel suppliers you would have more investment in refineries that would allow us to speed up the date for universal low sulfur diesel, and less polluting refineries for example.

The current proposals for oil or carbon taxes is like the medieval physicians who prescribed "bleeding" to cure, but instead weaken the already ill patient.


The U.S., in refusing to raise its fuel economy standards to any significant extent over the last couple of decades has chosen to let the "free" market determine what kinds of cars we drive with respect to gas mileage. The result is that the U.S. has a much lower mpg average than Europe which chose long ago to heavily tax gasoline. Your dream of the free market achieving a better result than so called Government is just pure nonsense. That is, of course, unless you are perfectly happy with the status quo in the U.S.

Taxes have consequences. Europe has chosen to encourage diesel over gasoline. Failure to impose sufficiently rigorous pollution standards on diesels and diesel itself has resulted in a higher level of traditional pollution but a lower level of co2 emissions than would otherwise been emitted. Whether or not this was a correct policy choice is for the people to decide, but it is erroneous to conclude that the Government was ineffective by encouraging diesel. For that matter, there a lot of people in the U.S. who would be glad to tradeoff some of the ill effects of diesel by obtining the lower co2 emissions of diesel. This is a policy choice but says nothing about the efficacy or lack thereof of government imposed solutions.

My guess is that a really free market in the U.S. without the intervention of the EPA would have resulted in the polluted cities that you complain about with respect to Europe. I think, however, we can avoid polluted cities and high levels of co2 simultaneously. We have established very rigorous standards for diesels. Is that not your preference?

You seem to believe that the free market will magically deliver us from our high level of carbon emissions. It is not happening and won't happen unless there are consequences for people's actions. Taxes on carbon are a way of ensuring those consequences. But you are in luck. Thus far, we in the U.S. have refused to make any policy choices regarding the reduction of carbon.

While I do not think that diesel should get preferential treatment, that is just my policy preference. While I may not agree with the policies in Europe, it does not follow that government is somehow evil and/or incompetent or that the free market would provide a result more to my particular personal preference.

Well, why don't they just raise taxes in Europe to stop all the fuel consumption...oh, wait...never mind.

Well Tom, I am happy with the status quo in the US. I had no trouble finding a 5 passenger car that gets 40 mpg. I think cafe standards and carbon taxes is just code is just code for government intrusion.

One thing is americans have always kept in mind that cars are also entertainment.As long as the people who ENJOY driving tended to pay alot soing so and thus tended to help drove our costs down.. as in premium gas spendy cars blah blah blah. We didnt care.

Right now the common view is a matter of fact look at the fuel and saying ok lets curb our zoom zoom a bit UNTIL we can convert to bio and h2 and ev and then lets let the fun continue.

In short its not a lifestayle change thats needed as far as we are concerned its just time for a change in how we make and get our cars fuel. Once we convert to bio and ev and h2 we realy have no reason to give a rats ass what people wana drive... assuming we can produce enough fuel and power to fuel it all.

That is the american way. When you see a problem you do yout part to help until the problem is fixed and then its assumed ythe damn problem is OVER and you can go do whats bloody fun.

Now one issue is that alot of people simply dont get the curbing your fun a tad concept and others dont get the TEMPORARY part of the issue. So they both just go annoy each other while we all sit and eat popcorn and bet on who shoots who first and if its gona be a groin shot or not.


I believe that European governments did not choose to encourage diesel over gasoline. They just taxed personal transportation, mainly fuel, but cars too, to the upper level accepted by population – just to increase the revenue. First it was OK with people because cars were considered luxury items, than because environmental sentiments that cars are dirty, and when clean gasoline cars appeared – and only than – climate change sentiment kicked in. Taxes first, than CO2. Same as it was with climate change: temperature first, than CO2.

Diesel fuel enjoyed less taxes for very simple reason: it was and is blood of commercial transportation. So it was only natural, that distorted by government’s overtaxation market switched to more efficient and less taxed engines and fuel –diesel cars. The final result – slightly less oil import, much more air pollution, and more climate changing emissions to that matter.

The last claim calls for explanation. CO2 is not the only GH emission from cars. Diesel cars also emit diesel soot, which is extremely potent GH agent. IPCC 2007 report doubled the heating potential of Black Carbon particles (BC) to 0.2 W/m2, compared to 1.5W/m2 for CO2. They, of course, were shy to put it into Summary and masked it together with other aerosols. Think for a minute, tiny amount of BC particles have 12% heating potential of CO2 , which is emitted in huge amounts. You can find it here:

This effect is well known and researched, just google “black carbon” + “climate change” There are hundreds of articles, notably with James Hansen from NASA as co-author. Just yesterday I bumped into article of M. Jacobson in Journal of Geophysical Research, which makes direct comparison for diesel and gasoline cars. The result: “diesel cars emitting continuously under most resent US and EU particulate emission standards (0.08g/mi 0.05g/km) may warm climate per distance driven more then equivalent gasoline cars. Toughening emission standards by a factor of 8 does not change this conclusion…” :

Well, I am not to tell to people of Europe what to do (but I do expect it to be mutual). All in all, every people deserve the governments they have.


If what you say is correct, then it would appear that we should not be enacting policies that encourage diesel over gasoline. In any event, both fuels should generally be discouraged through higher taxes or other measures.

Your information also reinforces and supports the view that diesel taxes should be raised, which, according to Rafael, the EU is doing.

Heretofore, the EU has made a policy choice that commercial interests should be supported with respect to diesel. Given that we are approaching crisis mode with respect to GW, I believe that cutting carbon and other greenhouse gases should have a priority, in addition to policies that transfer the transport of goods from truck to rail. Political reality, of course, is messy, especially when one starts messing with the truckers. Government has the difficult task of balancing these cometing interests who have different priorities.

Regarding your comments about not telling other governments what to do. Per se, that is not generally done, but pressure is placed on other governments all the time for a whole host of reasons, especially in the area of trade. With respect to global warming, France has suggested that if the U.S. doesn't take action to commit itself to a program of reducing overall emissions over time, trade sanctions should be imposed on the U.S. Sanctions, of course, have been used by other governments, including the U.S. and through the U.N. with respect to Iraq and other countries. These sanctions are imposed because of a perceived threat or danger and are done with the idea of changing behavior. Global warming falls into that category.

Europe needs to do a lot more to cut their emissions. But at least they have begun the process. Individual states in the U.S. have also begun the process but a lot more needs to be done at the federal level. Unfortunately, even if the congress passes a meaningful bill with real teeth, it is unlikely that Bush would sign anything that is perceived to threaten the so called American lifestyle.

In the end the us will have many bioreactors churning out biofuels and grass farms making ethanol and wind farms and solararrays belting out electric and h2 and and and.

China certainly has the power and money to convert to whatever fuel cources work out so does the us and we both have the time unlike europe.

Europe is in the hot seat as far as globalwarming goes asthey are farmore vulnerable to it and far too weak to REALY do anything about it.

Thats what realy upsets you doesnt it? The us and china can afford to take thier time but you cant and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

In the end, gasoline and diesel mean oil and finite fossil fuel. Sustainable could mean that it does not depend on how much is in the ground. Or it might mean that we will not all die from the pollution before we run out. In any case, we all have our ideas of what sustainable transportation is. As for fun of driving, that is a big part. Freedom is also one of those feelings people get when they can drive where they want, when they want.

Until we have substitute carbon-neutral fuels that can fill the role that fossil fuels do today, any efforts at curbing emissions will meet with limited success at best. That's reality as I see it.


Diesel cars in normal operation emit only about 10% less CO2 than comparable gasoline car. Emitted Black Carbon makes them heat the climate more than comparable gasoline. Natural gas, perceived in EU as “green fuel”, is mostly delivered from Russia from 3000 km afar, and estimated vented on the way amount is somewhere between 5 and 10%. As you know, methane is 20+ times more powerful GHG agent than CO2, so conversion from local coal to Russian NG actually increases European GHG emissions. 85% of oil used in EU is derived from Middle East, with unbelievable amount of co-produced NG flared and simply vented. GW is perceived as catastrophe if CO2 emissions will not be drastically reduced in 10 YEARS, yet nuclear power is opposed because it will produce wastes radioactive for MILLION years. Modest Kyoto targets in EU miserably failed, and cap-and-trade system too. Cost of ton of carbon credits in EU now is close to 1 euro, so average American could spend 30 bucks and nullify his annual carbon footprint and feel even better than Al Gore. Even if Kyoto will be successfully implemented(including US and Australia), it will reduce anticipated GW by whopping 0.1 degree C in a century. Take a look at very refreshing analysis of prof. Bjorn Lomborg in his testimony to US Congress:

The list could go on and on. Kyoto agreement is the most wasteful non-solution for not-existed problem. European climate change policy is hypocrisy. Yet it is relentlessly pushed down the throat to the rest of the world. Do not expect it to go unnoticed.


Since you seem to believe that global warming is a non problem, your analysis of the relative merits of different fuels is irrelevant. With respect to the carbon credit issue, I agree that this represents a gross failure on the part of the EU. The problem is that they issued too many damn credits in the first place which drove down their cost. From what I read in The Economist magazine this has been recently been corrected and the cost of carbon credit is on the way back up.

I don't think anyone is arguing that Kyoto is sufficient too meaningful deal with global warming. Even if the U.S. congress has introduced bills that go way beyond Kyoto. Even if passed, however, they will not be signed by President Bush. Maybe better luck in next congress.

In one area you are correct. We cannot only think about carbon when we think about greenhouse gases. In evaluating a fuel, we need to look at the full impact from all gases.

In the area of transportation, I think that people make this problem seem harder than it is. The average mpg of the current U.S. fleet is around 17 mpg. A Prius gets close to 50 mpg and could accomodate the needs of most drivers as it is a mid sized vehicle. Further technological progress is in the cards and the next generation should get even better gas mileage. EVs and PHEVs may improve the situation even more, but I don't think we have to wait for a magic bullet to make real progress.

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