UIC: Fit for 55 plan the right moment to increase support for rail

IKEA-Maersk trains in Spain.

According to the international railway organization UIC, the Fit for 55 plan, with which the European Union aims to achieve a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, is a good reason to accelerate the levelling of external costs for all modes of transport. “Only in this way can the modal shift be encouraged that is necessary to relieve the burden on the climate.”

The plan is part of a package of proposals to adapt European climate, energy, land use and transport policies and related tax policies. In this way, net greenhouse gas emissions must be at least 55 per cent lower by 2030 than in 1990.

Emissions trading

When taxing carbon emissions as part of the ETS (Emissions Trading System), the external costs to the planet should weigh more heavily across all modes of transport, according to UIC. Exemptions for modalities with higher emissions should be lifted, the organisation believes. Customers of road transport and aviation do not currently pay for the full amount of carbon emitted.

In order to support the modal shift to the most sustainable modes of transport, a larger share of the revenue from the ETS should be used to support transformation projects in rail and sustainable mobility.

Only rail

Rail is the only modality that has reduced its emissions in recent years, according to UIC. In 2010, as part of the UIC/CER Environmental Strategy for 2030 and beyond, the target has been set to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The annual data shared by members shows that this target has already been achieved (28 per cent location-based; 38 per cent market-based). This is due to a combination of energy efficiency measures and a continuous increase in electrified routes. The sector is ahead of the target of 55 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050, according to UIC.

Part of the solution

According to UIC director François Davenne, rail is part of the solution to the current environmental problem. “Despite rail representing about 10 per cent of the market, it contributes less than 3 percent to global emissions. In addition, society benefits from the improved efficiency and inclusiveness that the railways offer, as well as reduced road deaths, injuries and local air pollution.”

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor of RailFreight.com and chief editor of the ProMedia Group online magazines.

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