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Reducing Greenhouse-gas Emissions of Transport Beyond 2020: Linking R&D, Transport Policies and Reduction Targets

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Total project cost
€1 316 497
EU Contribution
€940 676
Project website
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Call for proposal
Link to CORDIS
Background & Policy context

GHG-TRANSPORD concerned reducing greenhouse-gas emissions due to transport beyond 2020. It linked R&D, transport policies and reduction targets.

In early 2007 the EU adopted the objective to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius. More specifically, the European leaders defined a target to reduce greenhouse gases by at least -20% until 2020, or -30% if an international agreement was achieved, compared with the emission levels of 1990.

Until 2050 the reductions of the EU emissions should reach -60 to -80%. Transport currently contributes about 27% of the total EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In a baseline scenario this share is expected to grow due to continued strong growth of transport demand, in particular of freight transport and air passenger transport, and slower efficiency improvements than for other GHG emitting sectors.

The existing GHG reduction targets do not force reductions of the transport sector, though for specific modes like air transport the planned inclusion into the European emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) will indirectly impose targets for these modes in a few years. Thus it is obvious that in the future (1) the transport sector will have to contribute to GHG emission reductions such that (2) reduction targets for the different transport modes have to be anticipated and (3) aligned R&D strategies and transport policies have to be developed to efficiently and effectively meet these reduction targets for the medium to long-term.


The GHG-TRANSPORD project aimed to contribute to the development of a R&D strategy for the EU to reduce the GHG emissions of the different transport modes (road, rail, air and shipping) linking this R&D strategy with the available policy measures. The project supported the FP7 objective to develop integrated, 'greener' and smarter transport systems.


The project back-cast from existing GHG emission reduction targets, set at the level of the overall economy to the contribution required from the transport sector. As a starting point GHG-TRANSPORD described the European innovation system of the transport sector considering the global context as well. At the same time it analysed the GHG emission mitigation potentials offered by a broad portfolio of transport technologies and measures. Desk research was complemented by a model-based comparison of ambitious technology pathways with present policies and measures. This was to reveal areas with a largely under-exploited mitigation potential.

GHG-TRANSPORD then further assessed the R&D and other measures to mobilise additional reduction potentials so as to achieve GHG emission reductions in line with the overall EU commitments until 2050.

The project was supported by a Stakeholder Council and regular project workshops to communicate findings and invite the transport community to become involved. Scientific work was carried out by a consortium of partners, involving: TRT from Italy, EC IPTS from Spain, TML from Belgium, ITS (University of Leeds) from the United Kingdom and Fraunhofer-ISI from Germany.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
The European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Specific funding programme


The transport sector is able to reduce its GHG reductions by more than 60% compared with 1990, under certain conditions before 2050. Today, known technologies alone will not be sufficient to achieve such GHG reduction targets. Even putting ambitious pricing measures in place, the achievable GHG reductions through technology and pricing appear insufficient to meet the targets. Either additional strong regulation or the emergence of yet unknown technologies are required to meet the targets. In particular for road and air transport. Strong regulation should comprise a ban of selling fossil fuel cars after 2035 (similar to the action with electric light bulbs) and freight modal-shift from road to rail and shipping.

Other results

Road transport: car transport bears the largest GHG reduction potentials within the shortest time horizon. The scenarios indicate that CO2 emission limits, for the average new car and applying tank-to-wheel calculation, should be in the range of 70 to 90 gCO2/km for 2020 and 50 to 60 gCO2/km for 2030. Two different pathways could achieve that: a) implementing all available efficiency technology for internal combustion engines cars ('ICE'), and b) combining a cost efficient GHG efficiency strategy for ICEs with alternative fuels strategy (i.e. EV and HFC). The second pathway is recommended. For truck transport, priority should be on implementing efficiency technologies. A 40% efficiency improvement until 2020-2025 seems feasible. Biofuels play a limited role for heavy trucks, while for medium-size trucks CNG/biogas could be relevant options.

Air transport: in the short term GHG reductions of air transport will have to come from operational measures, including the installation of the SESAR system. For air transport biofuels come close to being the silver bullet to significantly reduce GHG emissions until a time horizon of 2050. Additionally, the open rotor technology should be developed for use in freighters and medium distance passenger aircraft. Both will require substantial R&D support. These developments could pave the way for new plane design in the form of blended wing bodies, though these should become technology ready only after 2050 and bear high R&D expenditures and risk.

Ship transport: in the short-term, ship GHG emissions can be reduced largely by operational measures of which the most effective is slow steaming. Long-term setting efficiency standards for new ships, as proposed by the Energy Efficiency Design Index, constitutes an important policy. Step changes could be achieved by R&D of new ship hull designs.

Rail transport: most important for GHG reductions of rail transport is to enable modal-shift by increase of capacity and attractiveness. For freight transport this translate into building dedicated rail freight infrastructure at certain bottlenecks including intermodal terminals and to support collaborative logistics to increase bundled volumes on long distance connections. For passenger rail transport the extension of a high-speed rail network well connected to regional feeder networks is the key.

Cross-modal transport: using the optimal vehicle for each transport purpose bears high

Strategy targets

Innovating for the future (technology and behaviour): Promoting more sustainable development


Lead Organisation
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.v.
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€322 874
Partner Organisations
Transport & Mobility Leuven Nv
Diestsesteenweg, 3010 Kessel Lo, Belgium
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€135 997
Trt Trasporti E Territorio
Via Rutilia 10/8, 2041 MILANO, Italy
EU Contribution
€132 252
University Of Leeds
University Rd, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€172 932
European Commission - Joint Research Centre (Brussels)
Rue de la Loi 200, 1049 BRUXELLES, Belgium
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€176 621


Technology Theme
Sustainable urban mobility plans
R&D strategy for sustainable mobility
Development phase

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