June 15, 2010 / 12:35 PM / 8 years ago

EU sees beyond combustion engine for 90 pct CO2 cut

* EU study: transport can cut CO2 by 89 pct by 1990

* Biofuels must double efficiency, ICE engines redundant

By Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS, June 15 (Reuters) - Europe’s transport sector could cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 90 percent by 2050, partly by boosting biofuels, scrapping the internal combustion engine and lowering speed limits, a study showed on Tuesday.

“It seems very difficult, if not impossible, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 50 percent or more through the uptake of technical options alone,” says the final report of a European Commission consultation.

“In order to reduce transport’s greenhouse gas emissions by around 89 percent compared to 1990, it is essential that both technical and non-technical options are taken up,” it adds.

The report follows a 15-month consultation with about 100 stakeholders from industry and environment groups. It is available here: www.eutransportghg2050.eu

Such a cut would prove challenging, because transport is growing explosively and shipping and aviation cannot be electrified.

Technical measures could contribute a cut to 36 percent below 1990 levels, including doubling the efficiency of biofuels and by replacing nearly all internal combustion engines with electric or fuel-cell-powered vehicles.

That would require all the electricity going into electric vehicles to come from 100 percent renewable sources, and for biofuels to achieve greenhouse gas savings of 85 percent and make up about a third of fuel supply.

Non-technical measures would carry the rest of the effort -- for example, lowering speed limits, improving town planning and harmonising taxes to ensure highly polluting fuels no longer receive subsidies.

The increased demand for biofuels raises serious questions of sustainability.

“A large demand for biomass from transport could be incompatible with feeding the growing population of the planet, particularly with the anticipated increase in meat consumption,” says the report.

Failure to act would allow transport’s emissions to grow by 25 percent from today’s levels by 2050, and to 74 percent above 1990 levels.

By 2050, shipping is seen growing by over 65 percent, aviation by over 50 percent, and road freight by more than 45 percent.

Europe’s transport commissioner Siim Kallas is expected to launch his future transport strategy by the end of 2010, but there is no guarantee he will act on the report’s conclusions.

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