Transport

Berlin Hbf (Europaplatz), Berlin, Germany
Image credits: Daniel Abadia on Unsplash, 2018

Key messages

  • Climate change impacts in the transport sector relate to extreme weather and hydrologic events, like torrential rain, storms and extreme wind, sea surges, flooding or heatwaves. These climate change manifestations have an impact especially on transport infrastructure and therefore transportation itself, its reliability and safety.
  • Within the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, adaptation action in transport will be implemented in an integrated manner with other European Green Deal initiatives such as Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. This Strategy, together with an Action Plan, lays down the foundation on how the EU transport system can achieve its green and digital transformation and become more resilient to climate change. A key field of EU action is the Climate-proofing of EU-funded Trans-European Transport Network. Assessments on transport-related climate adaptation aspects are provided by the EEA Transport Environment Reporting Mechanism reports.
  • Another important area is the update of standards governing the safety and performance of infrastructure in a changing climate, done together with the European Standardisation Organisations.

Impacts and vulnerabilities

Transport is an integral part of the economy and society and plays a vital role in the everyday lives of people and businesses. The measures aimed at boosting resilience of transport and making the transport system less vulnerable to climate change should be brought up in line with efforts to make transport less carbon intensive, sustainable and smarter.

Climate change affects the transport sector in multiple ways. Most impacts relate to extreme weather and hydrologic events, like torrential rain, storms and extreme wind, sea surges, flooding or heatwaves which are likely to occur more frequently in future due to climate change. These climate change manifestations have an impact especially on transport infrastructure and therefore transportation itself, its reliability and safety. 

The policies aiming at climate change impact, vulnerability, and adaptation (CCIVA) of transport are focused on enforcing transport resilience to climate change effects in line with efforts towards minimizing the impact of transport on the environment and the climate system.

 

Policy framework

On the European level, the policy processes in the transportation sector are mainly targeted to climate change mitigation and reducing environmental impact of transport which benefits adaptation, but not adaptation specifically. 

Given the systemic nature of the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, adaptation action in transport will be implemented in an integrated manner with other European Green Deal initiatives such as  Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. This Mobility Strategy, together with an Action Plan, lays down the foundation on how the EU transport system can achieve its green and digital transformation and become more resilient to climate change. The Fit for 55 package includes a legislative proposals and policy initiative on a revision of the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), including its extension to shipping, revision of the rules for aviation emissions and establishing a separate emission trading system for road transport and buildings.

Climate-proofing EU-funded Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) is ensured by the EU-legislation on Union guidelines for the development of the TEN-T network. The 2019 European Commission TEN-T evaluation process has led to the revision of the Regulation and respective guidelines. The purpose of this evaluation process is to develop a transport network, which is efficient, safe, smart and sustainable, which takes digitalisation on board, and which addresses climate change. Based on results of the evaluation process the revised TEN-T Regulation will be prepared and put forward by the Commission in November 2021.

 

Improving the knowledge base

The knowledge of CCIVA in transport in Europe is gradually built and enhanced through EU funded research, and regular assessment processes by well renowned organizations including IPPC assessment reports, UNEP GEO reports and EEA Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) reports.

The IPPC AR5 report pointed out that for the transportation sector, structural adaptation measures, infrastructure improvements and disaster risk management are recommended while some adaptation responses may involve significant co-benefits, synergies and trade-offs.

The OECD is responding to the challenge of climate adaptation by supporting governments in planning and implementing effective, efficient, and equitable adaptation policies. In 2016, the OECD, in cooperation with the International Transport Forum,  published the report Adapting Transport to Climate Change and Extreme Weather which addresses the fundamental challenges that climate change poses to transport infrastructure owners. This report examines strategies that can help transport authorities reduce the network performance risks associated with changing extreme weather patterns.

Transport-related climate adaptation aspects are also tackled by the EEA TERM reports.  The EEA report Nature-based solutions in Europe: Policy, knowledge and practice for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction considers sustainable urban transport as an integral part of adapted and climate change resilient cities. The EEA report Adaptation of transport to climate change in Europe explores current climate change adaptation practices concerning transport across European countries. It provides an overview on the challenges and state of adaptation action, a review of several initiatives in different countries, and conclusions on a potential way forward.

Research projects aimed at climate change adaptation of transport were supported under the Horizon 2020 programme and in particular as part of the Smart, Green and Integrated Transport societal challenges. The main purpose of the RESilient transport InfraSTructure to extreme events project is to increase the resilience of transport operation to natural and man-made extreme events. Another project, Future proofing strategies FOr RESilient transport networks against Extreme Events, aims at increasing the resilience of critical elements of multimodal transport infrastructure such as bridges, tunnels and terminals. The GIS-based Infrastructure Management System for Optimized Response to Extreme Events on Terrestrial Transport Networks project aim is to design, validate and implement holistic methods, strategies, tools and technical interventions to significantly increase the resilience of inland transport infrastructure. The development of a decision support system to increase the resilience of transport infrastructure based on combined use of terrestrial and airborne sensors; and advanced modelling tools is the main purpose of the PANOPTIS project.

 

Supporting investment and funding

In the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the total allocation of the programme Connecting Europe Facility – Transport is € 12,8 billion for the whole programming period 2021–2027. These funds are supposed to be invested into the development of transport infrastructure and increasing its resilience, including the TEN-T network.

Transport projects at the national level aimed at, inter alia, increasing the resilience of transport to climate change, will be financially supported by EU financial instruments of the cohesion policy via operational programmes. The total allocation of the EU contribution for the whole programming period will be € 274,3 billion €. 

In the former funding period 2014–2020, the Cohesion Policy was supported by the  European Structural and Investment Funds, and among the investing priorities, relevant to adaptation in transport, were ‘Network infrastructure in Transport and Energy’ with the total budget € 67,3 billion, and ‘Climate Change Adaptation & Risk Prevention’ with a budget of €43,2 billion. The European Commission has published a fact sheet on Climate Change and Major Projects further outlining the climate change related requirements and guidance for major projects.

The Civitas SUMP plus project, financed by the Horizon 2020 programme, helps citie of all sizes in implementing sustainable urban mobility plans. This project is creating new approaches and tools in six 'city laboratories' such as Antwerp in Belgium and Platanias in Greece. Good practices and lessons learned from these labs will be transferred to politicians, practitioners, and researchers in member states and to guiding materials and tools.

A continuation of Horizon 2020 is the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme for the period 2021–2027 with the total budget of € 95,5 billion. The structure of the programme consists of four research priorities. Within the priority Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness, the projects in the transport sector will be funded under the theme Climate, energy, and mobility with the total budget € 15,1 billion.

A comprehensive overview can be found on the EU funding of adaptation measures page.

 

Supporting the implementation

The important measure in making transport in the EU less vulnerable to climate change is to develop and widely use climate-proof infrastructure standards. Transport infrastructure is the backbone of the transport system, and the application of these standards will help ensure infrastructure resilience to harmful climate change impacts, like flooding, strong wind or extremely high temperatures. The Commission has worked with European Standardisation Organisations to update standards governing the safety and performance of infrastructure in a changing climate. In early 2015, the CEN-CENELEC Adaptation to Climate Change Coordination Group was set up following the EU mandate to revise and develop climate resilient infrastructure standards. In the first phase of this standardization request, 13 standards were selected for revision by technical committees, out of which two standards, namely electrical and electronic application for railways and aircraft ground support equipment, related to the transport sector. In the second phase, which started in late 2017, the revision of standards continued. In parallel, the CEN-CENELEC Guide for addressing climate change adaptation in standards have been developed to support technical committees in revising standards with regard to climate change. The Commission has encouraged Member States to involve national standardisation in the implementation of their national adaptation strategies.

The European Commission supports sustainable urban mobility trough promoting the concept of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP), which is outlined in the Together towards competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility Communication. The overall aim of SUMPs is to improve the quality of life of citizens by addressing the main environment related transport challenges in cities such as air/noise pollution, climate change and integration of new mobility services. The implementation of SUMPs ensures that the transport system will be more diversified and environmentally friendly so that it will also be more resilient to climate change impacts. The revised edition of the Guidelines for developing and implementing a sustainable urban mobility plan has been developed as a result of a one year stakeholder engagement process.

 

MRE of adaptation

Pan-European monitoring, reporting and evaluation processes in the transportation sector are taking place mainly with regard to climate change mitigation, namely carbon intensity of transport and greenhouse gas emissions (reporting to UNFCCC), using of renewable energy sources in transport, or environmental performance of transport. There is no European-wide, obligatory, and legislation-based reporting providing overview of impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation of transport in EU member countries.

In future, the implementation of sustainable urban development plans should be regularly monitored and evaluated according to the SUMP guidelines to maximize effectiveness and added value for quality of life in cities and climate change adaptation of transport.

Highlighted indicators

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