The transport sector is currently a major contributor to air pollution, energy consumption, land-use encroachments and other environmental problems in Europe. Current remedial and preventive policies for this sector have focused on technological improvements, while measures designed to affect end-use are not applied at the same level in all countries. Growth in road and air transport is offsetting environmental benefits achieved through efficiency improvements. Countries in transition need special consideration. With substantial development taking place in the countries, the opportunities should be taken to develop land-use patterns that reduce the need to travel and encourage the use of environmentally friendly means of transport.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
The Environmental Programme for Europe recommends the promotion at national and international levels of: (a) The taking into account of the possibilities for reducing the volume of transport in transport and traffic policies and land-use planning at all levels, especially where it relates to new developments; (b) The reduction of environmentally harmful forms of transportation, for example, by strengthening water, rail and public transport systems, while improving at the same time their efficiency and performance, and locally promoting cycling and walking; (c) The tightening of technical standards together with the application of economic instruments to reduce emissions of air pollutants and noise by motor vehicles, to improve fuel efficiency and fuel quality, to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and to encourage the further use of unleaded petrol and to reduce the lead content of petrol with the aim of phasing out lead in petrol, so as to decrease the impact on health and the environment; (d) The development of pilot projects that encourage the application of clear criteria for air quality, noise and emission levels, energy use and accessibility in urban transport systems and transport systems for goods; (e) The minimization of the environmental damage caused by any change in the organization of the transport sector, and the application for that purpose, in particular, of environmental impact assessment of proposed transport infrastructure projects and programmes; priority should be given to investments in infrastructure for environmentally sound forms of transportation; (f) The application of economic instruments, such as road pricing and environmental charges for car parking and air-fuel taxation at an international level, in order to make transport users pay the full costs of infrastructure construction and maintenance, as well as environmental and health externalities; (e) The review of existing transport plans in the light of new potential telecommunication technologies; (h) The accession to the conventions and codes of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prevent pollution by vessels and ensuring greater port State controls in this respect, as well as appropriate training of the personnel engaged in the maritime sector to raise awareness in environmental protection and related issues.