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Transport’s true cost to the environment – EU Study

European commission study found our polluting behaviours are being heavily subsidised through taxes and by those whose quality of life is most affected.

Taxes and charges paid by transport users cover less than half the true cost, when infrastructure and the external costs of accidents, climate change, air pollution and noise are considered.

This is a Europe-wide cost of about €1tn a year – about 7% of the economy. Three-quarters is due to road transport. Motorcyclists have a large impact per kilometre, mainly through accidents and noise, but pay little. Cost per kilometre by rail is high due to infrastructure costs.

Despite the greater environmental cost, the lower infrastructure requirements for bus and coach travel make them the least expensive to society. The aviation industry and ship transport pay little towards their costs.

Key preliminary insights:

  • The total external costs of transport amount to the equivalent of around € 1 000 billion annually, which corresponds to almost 7% of EU28 GDP.
  • The main contributors to this are environment (carbon, noise and pollution), accidents and congestion.
  • Road is the largest contributor, accounting for ¾ of total external costs in absolute terms, and also the mode which leaves the biggest amount of external cost unpaid.
  • For all transport modes, the total costs (external and infrastructure) are substantially higher than what the user pays.

See also – PDF iconPreliminary results of a study on the negative effects that transport has on the environment, health, air quality and climate

Source – European Commission

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