21. March 2017

Climate record: “Paying the price for failed transport policies”

Environment Agency 2016 report touches a sore spot: rail transport is being disadvantaged

Poor climate record: Federal Environment Agency figures show policies lead to rising transport sector emissions. The government is having to pay the price for preferring the roads. High time for a transport turnaround.
Federal Environment Agency figures show policies lead to rising transport sector emissions. The government is having to pay the price for preferring the roads. High time for a transport turnaround.

Berlin, March 21, 2016. The German Environment Agency’s (UBA) assertion that transport is country’s biggest climate problem has effectively given the government its just desserts for its road-centric policies, commented the Pro-Rail Alliance on the UBA’s recently published Climate Report 2016. “When it comes to climate protection, transport is politicians’ biggest worry. The increase in emissions is unfortunately home-made: road transport is regularly given preferential treatment by the transport minister. Even now, faced with the current diesel affair, minister Dobrindt has both eyes firmly shut. Only by rigorously shifting transport from the roads to the railways will the federal government be able to meet its own targets on climate protection,” said the managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, Dirk Flege, on Monday in Berlin.

Climate record: modal shift policies are needed

The Pro-Rail Alliance manager warned German transport politicians against simply believing that the increase in emissions is caused by external factors such as ‘cooler temperatures’ or ‘low petrol prices’. “The increase in emissions is, above all, the result of misguided transport policies. For years, there has been a lack of real commitment to a turnaround in transport or concrete measures on modal shift.” Flege pointed out that the railways can play a key role in meeting the government’s targets on climate protection. “The majority of trains are already electric and more than 40 percent of traction current comes from renewable sources. But they are being politically disadvantaged: the burden from taxes and levies is increasing faster than for other modes of transport. Transport minister Dobrindt must act now to finally strengthen the railways.”

Freight transport: competitive disadvantages are the most threatening

Freight transport in particular has contributed to increasing emissions, said Flege. This is where the need to act is most acute: “Rail freight especially has been fighting for years against many competitive disadvantages. And whereas road freight transport has become increasingly cheaper – for example due to the reduction in road charges on HGVs – rail freight trains can now barely operate cost-effectively. Transport minister Dobrindt should know that freight shippers will always try to find the most favourable prices. If the German government is serious about its own climate targets, then it must strengthen the railways. A fifty percent reduction in track access charges would be a good start.”

 

Video: Why do we need a turnaround in transport policy? (German)

Additional information (German):

What will help cut CO2 emissions? Travelling by train

Unfair competition: overview