European transport policies are increasingly important but the tools available to evaluate the effectiveness of these policies are still inadequate and fragmented. It was necessary to provide the European Commission with a comprehensive methodology for assessing the impact of various transport policies and strategies on sustainability. The key challenge was to develop a methodology that takes into account the economic, the environmental and the social dimension of sustainability.
The REFIT consortium felt that the weaknesses of sustainability assessments of transport policy at the time of the project were:
- the bad linkages between transport models and sustainability indicators;
- the incompleteness of existing modelling tool box;
- the tendency to address measures in isolation while assessment of policy packages is needed in order to include cumulative and cross-over effects.
The REFIT project targeted these weaknesses.
The objective of the project was to provide a set of sustainability indicators for assessing the effect of various transport policies packages of priority interest through state-of-art models at European scale.
The REFIT project built upon the combination of the SCENES, TREMOVE and CGEurope models (a combination that covers many of the aspects needed to evaluate transport policy). Starting with these tools, three main actions were proposed:
- a comprehensive assessment framework will be developed that links European transport objectives and indicators on the one hand, and the growing pool of tools and expertises built up within various European projects on the other hand;
- new additional evaluation modules will be developed to produce data for those policy targets and indicators that were till now hard to address quantitatively, notably impacts on regional development, employment, fair competition between modes, noise and air pollution exposure, personal health, safety, equity and income distribution;
- a rigorous assessment of policy packages on all three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, environmental, and social)will be made, testing and validating the methodology.
The project adopted the following assumptions and methodological guidelines:
- the study should be based on the state-of-the-art concerning modelling tools. This means that the project should not consist of building a new model or new major pieces of existing models, but in making the best use of existing models. For this reason the TRANSTOOLS/TREMOVE/CGEurope integrated model structure is chosen as main quantitative tool of the system. In addition new ad-hoc evaluation modules will be developed to produce appropriate indicators in relation to the different impact categories/policy targets: safety, emissions, noise, land use, employment, etc.
- the sustainability indicators should address the three different dimensions: economic, environmental and social. Policy should be comparable both from the point of view of each dimension and taking into account all dimensions at the same time, using a transparent method for aggregating different indicators.
- the analysis should take into account the degree of uncertainty attached to several aspects of any study focused on a social environment (from input data to modelling assumptions, etc.). Furthermore it should provide elements to assess robustness of the outcomes with respect to key variables. This will be done by appropriate sensitivity tests and results validation.
The methodological approach is characterised by three groups of activities:
- Policy package definition. Input from the policy makers with the different objectives and linkage to indicators
- Modelling. Use of the three core-models and the developed ad-hoc models to assess the effects of the transport policy on the different objectives.
- Assessment. Different assessment possibilities are delivered to evaluate the policies in an appropriate way, fitting with the objectives of the policy.
The work is divided into the following steps:
- identification of sustainability indicators;
- development of assessment framework;
- refinement of economic dimension;
- refinement of social dimension;
- refinement of environmental dimension;
- assessment of policy packages;
The main result of REFIT has been the development of the transport sustainability impact assessment framework, which consists of a set of models and a large set of identified indicators that enable ex-ante evaluation of the European Common Transport Policy considering the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability. The REFIT Framework can in principle be used for all sustainability impact assessments within the EU. However, to keep the REFIT Framework working properly, it is necessary to use updated data and in some cases to make new calibrations of parameters.
Furthermore, in this project it has been proven that it is possible to calculate some additional indicators that previously were considered as an information gap. The framework has been established in such a way that the two core-models, TRANS-TOOLS and TREMOVE, provide several new developed ad-hoc models with input. The other data needed for the ad-hoc models is collected from existing sources. These ad-hoc models are designed to quantify the effects of transport policies on specific indicators.
Deliverables produced by the REFIT project:
- D0.1 - REFIT Website
- D0.2 - Project presentation
- D0.3 - Final plan for using and disseminating knowledge
- D1.1 - Outline of policy priorities and sustainability criteria and targets
- D1.2 - Existing sustainability indicators, knowledge gaps and roadmap towards better indicators and tools
- D2.1 - REFIT framework for Strategic Sustainability Assessment for European Transport Policies
- D2.2 - Revised version: REFIT framework for Strategic Sustainability Assessment for European Transport Policies
- D3.1 - Assessing the economic dimension of sustainable transport policy: an overview
- D3.2 - Assessing transport policy impacts on spatial distribution of economic activity and (un)employment with the CGEurope - model
- D3.3 - Assessing transport policy impacts on the internalisation of externalities of transport
- D4.1 - Assessing the social dimension of sustainable transport policy: an overview
- D4.2 - Assessing transport policy impacts on transport safety, on equity and on income distribution
- D5.1 - Assessing the environmental dimension of sustainable transport policy: an overview
- D5.2 - Assessing transport policy impacts on noise and air - pollution exposure and on personal health
- D6.1 - Working paper on scenarios
- D6.2 - Strategic Sustain
In general, future research on this subject should focus on the use of different and more developed indicators to provide more detail at sustainable impact assessment level. Additional or improved collection of data would also improve the availability of new indicators and in some cases the quality of the existing indicators.
To improve the reliability of the REFIT indicators, it is advisable to establish a more tight linkage between the ad hoc models (i.e. those developed by REFIT) to avoid inconsistencies among them.
To improve the REFIT framework, it is advisable to reorganise the current list of the REFIT indicators. The number of indicators (102) included in the REFIT methodology are too many to be used in many policy assessment exercises, especially those relating to environment (59). It is then necessary to review and simplify the list only focusing on the most significant.
The European scale of the REFIT models is not suitable to perform analyses at local scale. Further developments should be done to explore the possibility to apply the REFIT methodology to other regional scale models to calculate local scale indicators.
It is advisable to explore the possibility to enlarge the suite of the REFIT models to include more indicators in domains not addressed by the current framework, for example the energy domain, which is important for transport policies addressing sustainability.
The main implications is that the developed operational tool, which permits to gather information in a coherent way, will provide policy makers with a clear overview of the indicators and their individual and total response to transport policies.