Impacts on Mobility and Transport

 Summary

The social domain
The economy domain
The environment domain
The technology domain
Key challenges for future policy and planning

Premise

This section is intended to present the authors’ understanding of current and future trends potentially impacting on mobility patterns as emerged during the literature review.  The authors are aware that diverse interpretations may arise from the reading of the document as in several cases reviewed literature provided different, if not contradictory, interpretations of the same phenomenon.  Additionally, several other hypothetical scenarios may arise when considering the combination of different factors, thus making it more difficult to reach an indisputable point of view.

Therefore the synthesis provided in this page should not be intended as substitutive for a full reading of the whole website which will allow the reader to draw his/her own conclusions.

Key Drivers and Trends

In the drivers’ sections the reader is provided with a wide, even though still not exhaustive, review of key factors and drivers that will contribute to the development of the next European scenarios and its future mobility patterns.

The scanning of the Social, Economic, Environmental and Technological domains has revealed that all of them could play an important role in reshaping future mobility: every domain has relevant driving forces that, by their own or in combination with others, could substantially impact on transport demand.

The review has also disclosed that in most cases it is hard, if not impossible, to predict the intensity of such impacts as well as their rapidity in the course of the years.  In fact, the speed by which environmental and technological mutations could take place is really hard to predict, and thus their implications on the planning and development of the future transport system.

As witnessed by the current European situation, it is also very hard to predict the development and the implications of economic, political and financial decisions on the global market, affecting in second order overall mobility of people and goods.  Less challenging could be the prediction of the impacts deriving from demographic factors whose dynamics, unless there are disruptive events, can be more easily understood and forecast.

The literature review confirmed that some drivers will have a central role in shaping future mobility patterns.

The SOCIAL domain

The demographic factor

The ageing of European population is the result of different demographic factors: trends in fertility showing a reduction of birth rates, increased life expectancy due to the medical progress as well as migration dynamics and policies.  Population ageing is an ongoing phenomenon that is expected to have an impact on several domains.

As shown in some studies, the overall size of the population is projected to be slightly larger in 50 years time, but much older than it is now: by 2060, the median age of the Europeans is projected to be more than 7 years higher than today and the number of people aged 65 or more is expected to represent 30% of the population as opposed to 17% today.

Ageing is expected to occur differently across Member Countries: the highest shares of old age population are likely to be found in Eastern Germany, North-West of Spain, Italy and some parts of Finland.  In Central and Eastern Europe the impacts of ageing will be delayed owing to their younger population and lower life expectancy.

According to some authors, an ageing population could represent a huge problem for the economy: given the decline in labour supply, the annual average potential GDP growth rate for the EU27 is projected to decline.  The decline in the working age population will vary across countries with some regions (suffering from a combined effect of low fertility and high out-migration) particularly hit.

The fiscal impact of ageing is projected to be substantial in almost all Member States, with effects becoming apparent already during the next decade.  Most of the projected increase in public spending will be on pensions, health care, and long-term care.

Recent demographic projections show that in 2060 there will be only two active workers for every pensioner.  Therefore it can be expected a big pressure on the European economic system in the next decades probably only in part mitigated by new pension reforms that have been developed in many countries in recent years.

Generally, the average income from receiving a state pension is much lower compared to an average income earned by an economically active person.  Therefore the ageing population is an important concern when considering poverty reduction.

While life expectancy is slightly increased in the last decades reaching 82 and 76 years respectively for women and men, healthy life years remained almost stable at a threshold of about 62 years for both genders. These gaps in life expectancy and healthy life are expected to lead to increasing numbers of elderly with disability and the need of long-term care in some Member States.

The ageing of population will change the households’ structure (smaller family units) so that social institutions will be required more and more to replace family care.  More resources will be needed for structures and services dedicated to people in age: their specific needs will have to be addressed in urban planning, infrastructures and services design.

As far as mobility is concerned, also transport supply will need to adapt to elderly people, especially in terms of accessibility, availability of public transport, user-friendliness of payment systems, safety and security.

In this respect the future technology will play a fundamental role in preserving and supporting the mobility of the elderly through the adoption of new vehicle design for both private and public transport sector, the provision of new services expressly tailored to the new needs and, given the reduced capabilities, the development of devices that are easy to use.

The effect of ageing on the total amount of transport demand is not straightforward to predict since it strictly depends on activity rates and income distribution.  If the retirement age will be raised, everyday mobility patterns might not change dramatically even if a tendency towards shorter distances and public transport could be observed.  However, if elderly people will be able to enjoy many years retired with a good income, commuting daily trips could be reduced whereas leisure and tourist trips could be increased.

Migration has become an increasingly important phenomenon for Europe: in 2009, about 3.0 million people immigrated into one of the EU Member States while at least 1.9 million emigrants were reported to have left an EU Member State.

A particular distinction must be made between intra-EU migration and migration from outside of the EU.  Subject to some transitory restrictions on citizens of new Member States, EU citizens have the right to live and work in other EU Member States; they are not subject to limits on the numbers that may be admitted, and are exempt from restrictions as to duration of residence and access to the labour market that may be applied to third country nationals (persons who are no citizens of an EU Member State).

Intra-European migration flows are very diverse.  They comprise retirees from northern European regions moving south to the Mediterranean regions as well as East-European workers in search of jobs moving to West-European countries. Alongside traditional migration and mobility, new forms of mobility are taking place.  People are moving abroad for shorter periods to seek work, pursue their education or other life opportunities. These mobile people tend to be well-educated young adults, towards the higher end of the occupational scale.  Increasingly, this form of mobility is based on personal preferences and life choices, and not only on economic opportunities.

Intra-European flows will probably intensify in a scenario shaped by weakened national borders and increased regional disparities.

When looking at inter-European migration, recent studies show that in 2010 4% of the total EU-27 population (20.1 million) were citizens of a non-EU27 country.  The distribution by continent of origin of third country nationals living in the EU shows that 7.2 million people were citizens of a European country outside the EU (of which more than half were citizens of Turkey, Albania or Ukraine). The second biggest group was from Africa (mainly North Africa, often from Morocco or Algeria), followed by Asia (in particular from India or China) and the Americas (Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia).

Patterns of migration flows are influenced by several factors such as labour migration, historical links between origin and destination countries and established networks in destination countries.

Future trends in migration are hard to anticipate, as they depend on future events across the world ranging from economic and social factors to political developments.  Even though the global economic crisis has slowed emigration in many parts of the world, with economic recovery and job growth, most consider this slowdown to be temporary.

Recent projections for the EU as a whole show that annual net inflows are estimated to increase from about 1 million people in 2010 to 1.2 million by 2020 and thereafter declining to 878,000 people by 2060.  The cumulative net migration to the EU over the entire projection period is 55 million, of which most is in the Eurozone (42 million).

Migration flows are projected to be concentrated on few destination countries: Italy, Spain and the UK.  For countries that are currently experiencing a net outflow (mainly Eastern European countries), this is projected to taper off or reverse in the coming decades.

Whereas migration used to be in the past predominantly a one-off movement leading to permanent resettlement, recent migration is more fluid, thanks to improved transport and communication networks.  Migrants today may make consecutive stays in different countries, or alternate residence between countries.

Given the lower median age of migrants, migration flows could mitigate the speed of European population aging.  However, studies reveal that in order to offset the population decline, immigration to Europe should double in the coming years.  Unless future migration policy will not change dramatically, the ageing of European population and its impact on labour will only be slightly compensated by younger migrants.

Although the travel behaviour of immigrants and their attitudes toward different travel modes are generally scarcely researched by national travel survey in European countries, some studies reveal that, especially at the beginning of their experience, migrants are mainly concentrated in urban areas and, given the lower economic standards, have generally lower access to cars, travel less and mostly by public transport or by walking.

Nevertheless, studies reveal also that many of the immigrants had access to a car and a driver license in the country of origin, and many would like to have a car and a driver license in the future again.  This implies that their current mobility patterns are expected to change in case of improved economic conditions (following their integration in the society), and thus the differences in mobility between the immigrants who have stayed longer in their new country and the domestically born is expected to decline in the future.

When considering long-distance mobility, migration and tourism tend to become mutually interacting phenomena whose importance is rapidly growing.  Some empirical results show that as the stock of immigrants increases from a certain country ceteris paribus the number of VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) trips from that particular country rises.

Given the expected trends in migration flows, increased movements of people within Europe and between Europe and the origin countries can be easily forecast, as well as an increase in the demand for international and intercontinental transport services.

The structure and spatial distribution factors

Mobility is strictly dependent on income level: lower incomes are usually accompanied by reduced trip rates while on the contrary higher incomes are associated with increased mobility.  The main source of income for individuals and households in the EU is earnings from employment. Nevertheless, the reviewed literature showed that both earnings and income inequalities have increased in recent decades for most EU states, with the level of inequality varying between Member States as well as within them.

Some studies show that a combination of factors, including economic restructuring, reduction of protection in the labour market, cuts to the welfare states, restrictive monetary policies within the stubborn anti-inflationary European Monetary Union framework account for these increases in inequality in the last two to three decades.  In particular labour’s share of value added has fallen especially among the low paid.  This means that employment no longer provides a guarantee against poverty and exclusion.  In 2007, 17 families out of 100 in Europe were considered at risk of poverty.

Several authors argue that boosting debt as a way to sustain demand depressed by stagnating wages plays a major role in the current global crisis.

In addition, new forms of social exclusion and poverty are emerging: “infrastructure-poor” (Eastern Europe); “feminisation of poverty”, mainly among single, immigrant mothers (Southern Europe); “immigrant poverty” (Central Europe and other countries); “young people at risk of poverty” (Eastern and Southern Europe); “the vulnerable elderly” (Eastern and Western Europe).

Given the current policy orientation to address the debt crisis affecting the European economy, it might be expected that the trends in inequality and in poverty will be not slowed or reversed in the near future, especially in those countries suffering more from the current situation.  Additionally, income inequalities might increase migration flows given prevailing wage differentials and employment opportunities between poor and rich countries.

Since transport systems must be planned in order to offer transport choices for both rich and poor people, in a scenario with increasing income inequality and poverty this aspect could be a major challenge for the future.  Private mobility might become unsustainable for an increased share of the population and reliable, safe, and affordable public transport options might have to be offered to an expanding number of poor people, thus putting more pressure on public transport policies and on the need for subsidies.  The need for cheaper public transport options, both for short and long distances, might be also exacerbated by fiscal policies increasing fuel and car ownership taxes.  On the other side, people with higher income could increase their demand for faster transport modes.

In a scenario of recovered economic growth and rising income levels, a rising demand for mobility might be expected, both in terms of number of trips and total length, with travellers shifting from public modes (bus, railroads) to the private car and increasing the demand for faster modes (high-speed rail and air).

Car ownership is an important determinant of passenger travel behaviour and it is fundamentally interconnected with residential location and decision-making regarding motorised trips.

Ownership rates increased significantly during the 70s, and for lower-income households during the 80s, but flattened and declined in some cases during the 90s.  The period of growth in per capita vehicle ownership rates coincided with Baby Boomer’s peak driving years, significant growth in the proportion of women employed outside the home, rising disposable income, low fuel prices, and suburbanisation.

In industrialised countries most of these factors have peaked and many are now reversing.

The car ownership rate in Western Europe is reaching saturation point, and a confluence of events and changes in lifestyle may lead to a possible reduction in the next decades.

Nowadays people living in urban areas are provided with several public transport and car sharing options to satisfy their mobility needs, and slow mobility (walking and cycling) is gaining increasing attention; the ageing population will inevitably modify its long-term mobility patterns relying more and more on public transport as driving capability will expire; the observed trends of re-urbanisation and consumers’ increased preference for walkable neighbourhoods will probably slow down the urban sprawl trends and reduce car dependency; in addition, (as further explained later on when discussing the  change of lifestyle)  younger generations are showing more interest in technological gadgets and social networks rather than in owing a car.

Despite the positive environmental effects, reduced car ownership might have implications for the European transport sector finance given the consequent reduced revenues from fuel and vehicle ownership taxes, and alternative sources might have to be found to support investment in the sector.

Economic development has historically been strongly associated with an increase in the demand for transportation and particularly in the number of road vehicles.  This relationship is also evident in the developing economies today with car ownership rapidly expanding with important implications for transport and environmental policies, as well as for the global oil market.

In the past decades the development of European cities was driven by urban sprawl with cities becoming much less compact even in the absence of demographic pressure.  Urban expansion was mainly driven by economic growth and restructuring, new employment opportunities, growth of transport infrastructure, household change, as well as a decline of traditional rural economies.

Rural–urban migration and the transformation of rural settlements into towns and cities have been important determinants of rapid growth of cities but there has also been a general convergence in lifestyles between urban and rural areas as advances in transportation and telecommunication have caused distance and time to collapse.  Urban functions are being spread over larger and larger geographic areas so that the traditional distinction between urban and rural areas is becoming increasingly redundant for many purposes.

From an economic perspective urban sprawl is a costly form of urban development due to: increased household spending on commuting from home to work over longer and longer distances; the cost to business of the congestion in sprawled urban areas with inefficient transportation systems; the additional costs of the extension of urban infrastructures including utilities and related services across the urban region.  On the environmental side, sprawl related growth of urban transport and greenhouse gas emissions have major implications for global warming and climate change, with the expectation of increasingly severe weather events in the coming years and increased incidences of river and coastal flooding.

Recent studies shows that urban sprawl, as a dominant trend in the post-war era, is not expected to disappear in the coming years, but for reasons linked to land scarcity and costs and to appreciation of city life, the increase in urban sprawl may diminish.  There is some evidence that sprawl has already reached its peak in many cities and, in parallel with the sprawl reduction, a certain trend towards re-urbanisation is being observed with inner-city areas becoming more attractive to new target groups (e.g. high-income households, small families, older people etc.).

The reduction of urban sprawl may have major implications for mobility and transport especially on reduced travelled distance, lower dependency on the car, and thus on fuel, and reduced road congestion in accession to the city.

Specific transport adjustment and planning might be needed, as urban areas will increasingly need to manage the demand profile: by 2050 more than 80% of European population is expected to live in urban areas, thus putting more pressure on urban transportation systems.

Some studies identify Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) as playing a key role in this given their great possibilities to monitor networks, manage pricing schemes, provide traveller information and enable use of in-vehicle devices.

On the supply side, the diversification of energy sources, fuel types, and vehicles might be greatest in urban environments where the transport and distance requirements are more compatible with diversified energy types and new energy distribution infrastructures.

Although planning and technology can do much to improve mobility, many future challenges are shaped by people’s behaviour and preferences.  Sustainable mobility concepts are more likely to emerge in the urban environment, with greater attention of people towards active travel (walking and cycling), combined with the use of high quality public transport (which can be more cost-effectively organised in compact urban environments) and information services.  Currently, cycling and walking account for approximately 13 % of urban passenger-km in Europe, but best-practice examples show this share can be much higher.

The behaviour factor

Like in the rest of the world, the European tourism industry was severely affected by the global economic recession in 2008-2009 with the region overall suffering a decline in arrivals and a fall in receipts.  Although in 2011 the sector showed a certain recovery, surpassing the previous peak set in 2008 of about 494 million arrivals (both intra-European and non-European), new signs of eroding gains began to appear: recent studies show that travel to European destinations has slowed in recent months reflecting the combination of fiscal austerity and financial market stress brought about by the Eurozone debt crisis which is affecting both consumer and business behaviour.  Furthermore, the spectre of a global recession is not an insignificant risk as even emerging markets have begun to slow.

These trends confirm once again the great dependency between economic welfare and tourist flows and make it extremely difficult to make forecasts for future trends.

In a suffering economy travellers may heavily change their behaviour by reducing tourism trips and shortening both distance and duration.  Also business travel may be affected through companies curtailing business trips.  As already registered, an economic recession may be associated with a decline in air travel.

In contrast, in a scenario of growing economy, tourist trips would increase both in number and distance, as witnessed by the growing domestic and intra-regional tourism also in emerging economies.  Migration can further boost this phenomenon by increasing the demand for visiting-friends-and-relatives trips.

Besides the economic factor, other aspects may influence the development of tourist flows, making their prediction more difficult, especially in the longer term.  Europe has always been one of the preferred destinations for tourism and is expected to remain a 'dream' leisure and cultural destination especially for intercontinental travellers: it now receives about 3.8 million Chinese annually, exceeding the Japanese incoming flow by 200,000 units, and the Indian market has been generating increases in tourist numbers, even for the mature European destinations that are finding it difficult to attract larger numbers from their traditional markets.

Nevertheless, as shown by some literature, non-European tourism demand growth over the foreseeable future could be compromised by cost and new emerging alternatives: developing economies are increasingly more open to explore newer destinations and many of these are in Asia. Furthermore some studies highlight the impact of the way a visa is delivered in either facilitating inter-European tourist flows or hindering them considerably.  As an example, the European destinations that have most benefited from the growing demand from Russia in recent years have been those offering visa-free travel, or at least visas on arrival.

On the environmental side, reviewed literature unanimously shows that climate change may also reshape the distribution of seasonal tourist destinations.   Contradictory views can be detected when exploring the potential impacts of GHG mitigation policies (implemented through fuel taxes or carbon-emission charges) on the tourism sector: some studies maintain that these policies might increase costs of tourism and reduce its growth, while other studies find no significant impacts.

Mobility patterns are also heavily affected by changes in lifestyle and values, but it is difficult to make future estimates about the intensity and timing with which these will impact on levels and distribution of demand.  These changes could affect both short and long-distance mobility.

Everyday mobility can be reduced given the home-working and home-entertainment options provided by new technologies.  Different kind of activities can be currently executed via web (e.g. e-shopping, e-banking, e-booking of different services etc.) with these options becoming more and more available in the future with an increasing number of users due to the natural decline of digital illiteracy in the population.  Additionally the diffusion of immersive networking technology, especially among young people, may lead to the development of different sets of mobility preferences with future generations who are likely to spend more time in virtual spaces.

Nevertheless the potential impacts of telecommunications technology on life-style and travel demand tend still to be educated guesses.  One critical difficulty is the lack of data that can support the effort to determine whether in-home activities may substitute for out-of-home activities, whether out-of-home activities will be suppressed, or whether new out-of-home activities will be induced as a result of new telecommunications technology.

In any case it seems hardly believable that a dramatically decrease in everyday mobility will occur given the natural and psychological need of movements in human beings: some studies highlight that the daily amount of time spent on travelling by individuals is around 1.1 hour a day and it only slightly changed over historic periods.

On the other side, the intensification of information flows is increasing the interest of Europeans in international experiences.  This factor, together with the reduction of air fares, has heavily changed mobility by increasing the demand for long-distance leisure trips and changing the way Europeans conduct business or, more in general, their lives.

The technological development has played an important role in this respect allowing for consumers to search the internet intensively for offers and bargains, book at the last minute and be very price-sensitive.

Changing values can also impact on demand distribution “in space” as in the case of re-urbanisation driven by a new perception of urban living, “in time” as in the case of flexible working times taking place in several economic sectors, and “in modes” as in the case of increased environmental consciousness especially among young people.  This last factor is further supported by the evidence, included in several studies, that obtaining a driving licence as part of the initiation into adult society is no more considered as a need among young people and that the popularity of the car as a status symbol is declining, especially as alternative status symbols (such as smart technology devices) emerge.

The impact of an emerging “sustainable consumption” culture on transport could be important.  During the Twentieth Century, walking, cycling and travel by public transport were stigmatised, but in recent years alternative modes have become more socially acceptable.  For example, bicycle commuting is increasingly accepted and even prestigious.  Although cars are still expected to be the dominant mode in the future, with the largest mode share and mileage, alternative modes’ growth rates are expected to be larger.

The degree to which travel behaviour will actually change will be also driven by current and future policy and planning decisions: travel demand will be increasingly amenable to alternative modes and mobility management strategies.  So far not enough distinction was made between users on the basis of their different orientations, needs and demands.  Instead they are treated as a homogeneous group. The TRANSvisions study already highlighted the need to identify and address target groups for different services of sustainable transport, thus identifying the groups who contribute to a greater or lesser degree to GHG emissions and who could therefore be more targeted by incentives or restrictions.

The Economy domain

The economic performance factor

As far as the economy domain is concerned, the analysis of the documents gathered and surveyed has highlighted several relationships between this field and the transport sector; in this respect, the interaction seems bidirectional, as the demand of transport (both for passengers and freight) may sustain the economic growth, while on the other hand, economic growth is generally positively associated with the growth of travel demand.  Moreover, a wealthier economy (namely, higher per-capita GDP) encourages people to change habits, beliefs and values for example demanding for more expensive transport modes, inducing higher car ownership rates, high speed train services and diversion to air transport.

Nevertheless, the understanding of the whole interaction remains knotty and still difficult to disentangle, because of the complex causal and feedback mechanism that are involved.  Decoupling economy and transport is a cornerstone, as the historic link between GDP and traffic growth should be broken-up towards a more sustainable economic growth based on a lower transport intensity rate.

After the economic peak of 2000, within the European Union the GDP per capita grew rather slowly during the downturn between 2000 and 2003.  This was followed by a period of relatively higher growth rates until 2007 and thereafter it switched to a negative trend when the fragile foundations of that growth (debt, real estate bubbles and so on) became eventually too weak to sustain the economy. The future is highly uncertain, especially for the Eurozone.  Currently its outlook is rather negative at least until the end of 2012.  According to influential economic scholars, the longer term perspectives depend on the capacity of European and national institutions to tackle the structural problems of the European Monetary Union, first of all the productivity imbalances between European countries within a single currency area but independent fiscal policies.  This way the deliberate deflationary policy of the most productive countries cannot be counterbalanced by currency depreciation of less productive ones.  However, this issue seems not to be amongst the priorities of the current political agenda for the crisis, so the break-up of the Eurozone might not be excluded and consequences are hardly predictable.

Therefore, in the current European scenario any long-term forecast about the GDP trend is extremely hard.  According to recent predictions of the International Monetary Fund, nowadays the economic recovery remains still uncertain and the unemployment rate is foreseen to stabilise at high levels within the mid-term.  As a consequence, it seems hard to envisage any noticeable variation of transport demand both for passengers and freight.

Even energy consumption is strongly related to the economic status.  In turn, it will depend on the availability of resources of raw materials, till energy production will be mainly based on renewable sources.  Records on the link between energy intensity and economy show that energy intensity decreased from 1996 to 2000, remained almost constant from 2000 to 2003 and fell again from 2003 to 2009.  This is a result of GDP growth slowing faster than gross inland energy consumption during economic downturns.

In the survey carried out about the economy domain, the attention has been focused also on the interactions with the environmental side emphasising that the impacts of the economy and transport activities are related to contingent patterns, as clearly shown by the reduction of GHG emissions in 2008 and 2009.  Crisis periods have influence both on mobility and production rates, determining a remarkable reduction of the pollutants emission; in detail, within the OECD countries the amount of CO2 due to transport related activities has fallen by nearly 4% from 2007 to 2008 and all transport sub-sectors have seen emissions fall as a result of the crisis, except for international aviation.

Broadly, it has been argued that any GDP variation influences the environment.  Nevertheless this relationship relies not only on economic growth, but also on governance; under this assumption, advancements in governance are positively associated with higher quality of air and water.

Predicting transport flows on a large scale, the GDP as driver variable cannot be looked at in aggregate terms because of the dispersion of the rates led by local and specific territorial differences.In 2009 GDP per capita in the European Union varied widely amongst Member States, showing figures higher than the EU average in Luxemburg (by 171%), Ireland (by 27%), The Netherlands (by 31%), Austria (by 24%), Denmark (by 21%) and Sweden (by 18%).  The countries below the EU average were in Eastern Europe, namely: Romania (54%), Latvia (48%) and Lithuania (45%). Economies vary across regions due to uneven distribution of wealth, resources endowment, openness to international trade and the possibility of the population to access available resources.  The gap between regions is expected to enlarge due to the persistence of the current economic situation.

As regards the most advanced European countries, they have built much of their growth on intra-EU export especially towards less productive countries, lately also thanks to the single currency area.  Careful attention should be given to the voice that suggests that this intra-EU export (of goods and capitals) strategy has significantly contributed to the imbalances which are putting the Eurozone, and therefore even the prosperity of current winners, at risk.  In parallel, emerging and transition economies are no longer (just) outsiders, since the growth rates of China and India have already outpaced most of the Western Europe ones.  Forward looking, regional differences will become more evident in countries where underlying drivers, such as population growth, agglomeration economies, diffusion and development of technologies (R&D), globalisation and favourable economic policies (e.g. sustained public investment) will continue supporting a stable pace.

The phenomenon of emerging economies is reshaping the distribution of economic power across-the-board and new equilibriums are to be sought, especially with respect to consumption patterns. Developing countries will become more urbanised, with higher motorisation rates and even more dependent from energy sources.  This could determine an anticipated shortage of oil reserves, as well as an increase of the prices of the products related to oil with unavoidable consequences throughout all the transport sectors worldwide.

Economic growth drives also the quality of the environment, and the differences amongst countries have effects on the level of pressure put on it (explaining the variance in emission intensity between regions).  Emerging countries are still less inclined to address and issue measures to contain emissions, since these policies might slow down the gained progress rate; in the most advanced economies, where environmental issues have been given increased importance, great concern has been developed and policies to take care of the problem have been discussed amongst politicians. 

Due to the present crisis, differences across regions will be more likely to occur, and environmental pollution will increase amongst countries until governments will develop an even awareness in this respect.

In emerging economies major transport investments can be expected to improve their accessibility domestically, from/to neighbouring countries and even further.  Migration and tourist flows, as well as the trade sector, will highly benefit from improved accessibility.  In particular, an increase of the air transport market is expected in emerging economies: by 2030 the combined domestic markets in China and India are projected to overtake the current US domestic market which, in 2010, was the largest in the world.

Regardless of the place, when building a robust economy, the labour force is pivotal for a well based development as both number and skills of employees are crucial; broadly, high employment rates contribute to the economic prosperity, in terms of higher quality of life, social inclusion and accessibility to all the resources available for achieving personal tasks.  Currently, in the EU27 employment is projected to record an annual growth rate of only 0.3% over the period 2010 to 2020 and to reverse to a negative growth rate of a similar magnitude over the period 2020 to 2060. In particular, the share of workers within the range 55-64 years old is forecast to increase from 46.3% in 2010 to 56.1% in 2020 and to 62.7% in 2060, reflecting the expected impact of recent pension reforms in many European countries, aimed at postponing the retirement age.

Figures on unemployment by age and gender show that the labour market situation is worst for young people within the range from 15 to 24 years old.  More than 20% of people in this group were unemployed in the second half of 2009.  Moreover, the employment rate of women is projected to rise from 62.1% in 2010 to 65.9% in 2020.  Scenarios seem to be not encouraging also because full employment has not been in the policy agenda since the faith in market and supply-side economics has restricted labour policies to those targeted on improving (or trying to improve) labour participation. After decades of remarkable unemployment (the unemployment rate in the EU has rarely fallen below 7% in the last 30 years) and low income workers, the relevance of consumption as major driver of growth and employment should be rediscovered.  The drivers of productivity growth are variables that either depend on the quality of labour or the availability of capital (depending on different allocation of these factors).

Besides the aforementioned and straightforward relationships with the economy domain, the employment rate shows several other interactions with the other domains considered in this project.  In this respect and under a social perspective, education remains a pillar to build individuals’ skills and when looking for opportunities in larger and more specialised areas of production of goods and services.

On the environmental side, evidence has been found that environmental policies could have a positive impact on the overall number of jobs.  Nevertheless it has also been argued that policies that promote environmental innovation, or environmental tax reforms, are more likely to influence the composition of the labour market, rather than its size.

Socially, employment as well as unemployment may both drive migration flows between regions.  In the first case, skilled workers seek job opportunities in places where advanced capabilities are more likely to be required, on the other hand, unemployed people living in distress and dwelling in depressed areas are more inclined to move to urban centres, where they could strive for becoming better off.  If migration to specialised labour markets flows from rural and remote areas to the more urbanised ones, then occupation patterns will definitively also affect urban development and mobility.

The United Nations predict that the immigration flow from outside Europe is expected to continue to grow as it will contribute to fill employment gaps, especially in low-skilled jobs.

The investment factor

Eventually, the economy cycle impacts on public spending possibilities for investments in the transport sector. Under the current policy environment, budget constraints of Governments are manifold and hit transport mainly in terms of reduced funds granted to subsidise public transport and with respect to investments in new infrastructures.

According to The World Bank, all over the world public investment in transport typically accounts for 2.0 to 2.5 per cent of GDP and it may rise to 4% (or even more, e.g. China is running at 9%) in countries implementing development plans.

From a macro-economic perspective, public investment in transport infrastructure may foster a suffering economy, although such a policy has not a clear and perfect causal-effect relationship.  As a matter of fact, transport infrastructure may require a huge amount of financial resources and the returns on investments may not be perfectly overlapped with the real pattern of the economic cycle. It might be the case that when the investment is completed, its effect on the economy might be no longer so relevant, as the economy could have recovered a pre-crisis growth due to other reasons.  Moreover, investments not correctly appraised ex-ante could become a further burden on a governments’ balance sheet for generations to come.  This is not to say the public investments in transport are utterly useless to promote growth, but rather that cœteris paribus investments in other public sectors might  show higher returns (e.g. in education and research).

Europe invests on average 5% of GDP in transport infrastructure, with an increasing share of these resources being placed in upgrading and extending the trans-European rail network.  The cost of EU infrastructure that would be required to match the demand for transport is estimated at over € 1.5 trillion in the time span 2010-2030.  Additionally it can be supposed that additional investments might be needed in the future in order to address the emerging mobility needs of the elderly working people: private and public vehicles will have to respond to new comfort and safety requirements and transport infrastructures will have to be adapted accordingly to reduced perceptions of aged people.

However, as introduced above, in the coming years and decades there might be an increasing difficulty in finding the means for investing in transport infrastructure, given that a larger amount of resources will be absorbed by social services provided to the ageing population.

Additionally, the recent economic crisis has severely hit public budgets and private lending with direct impacts on the building of infrastructures and on the viability of companies providing transport services.  A substantial cut in investments between 2007 and 2008 has led to lower financing to all modes, with road investments falling from 60% in 2000 to 52% in 2003, while funds granted to rail networks have been declining since 2003.

Besides this, it is often difficult to determine whether the construction of a new transport infrastructure yields new created jobs or jobs relocation, and short or long-term jobs.

New infrastructures have again effects on the environment, and climate change impacts are envisaged to be reduced, if the investments are allocated to environmentally friendly modes (e.g. rail, maritime and inland waterways).

The market structure, the global trade and the fiscal policy factors

The Market structure is going to influence future mobility trends to the extent that rules and regulations (e.g. more or less market liberalisation) will exert an impact on transport demand and supply via relevant drivers.  The literature review has in fact established a correlation between market structure, ranging from lower levels of regulation (i.e. liberalised markets) to stricter rules (regulated markets), and important drivers of transport demand and supply, namely: a) GDP trends, correlated to higher market liberalisation, and leading to higher mobility rates; b) foreign trade and liberalisation, resulting from higher market opening and integration, leading to higher freight transport growth rates; c) technology development and innovation, assumed as a by-product of more competition and R&D investment, determining a positive impact on mobility of goods and people.

It is important to stress the implications of the market structure on the use of transport modes and the characteristics of travel, e.g. average distance.  In market-oriented economies, mobility is more likely to be based on open-market structures that sustain economic integration through long-distance mobility (e.g. shipping and air transport), both for passengers and freight.  On the other hand, a market structure with higher fragmentation and national-inward orientation may have the opposite effect, namely favouring short distance trips.

Fiscal policy addresses the strategy of reaching a sustainable equilibrium between public revenues and expenditure.  In the context of this report, this aspect basically concerns problems like the design of fiscal policies in facing pension expenditures, involving accumulation of assets and contributing positively to coping with the long-term outlook for public finances.  Declining revenues from capital taxation, because of competitive fiscal policy to attract foreign investments and of hiding profits thanks to globalisation have greatly contributed to public budget problems in Europe (as well as in the US) putting at the same time the disposable income of labour-dependent households under pressure.  The implications of the fiscal policy scenarios on transport trends concern, on the one hand, the impacts on disposable net income and, on the other, the influence of the use of most pollutant transport modes (internalisation of externalities via environmental taxation).  The former aspect may reduce the future transport demand (in particular long-distance leisure trips), to the extent that a tight fiscal policy reduces the actual demand.  The latter aspect could influence the use of the most polluting transport modes: levying carbon taxes based on fossil fuel carbon content would lead, in the near future, to the reduction of the use of the most polluting and intensive carbon-use transport modes, e.g. cars and airplanes.

In the next decades, the globalisation process, driven by the trade liberalisation policies and accelerated by the falling of transport prices, is expected to continue and to influence economic growth, employment and transport.  Currently, 1% GPD growth corresponds to a world trade growth of 2.5%-3.0% and a parallel rise of transport services.  According to the mainstream, globalisation’s impacts on employment and regional wealth will depend upon the ability of European policies to respond to the increased competition that requires higher flexibility in the labour market and a deep restructuring of the industry sector.  A significant number of authors are however more pessimistic and highlight how globalisation, especially in the form of outsourcing, has been objectively bad for workers and contributed to maintain unemployment and increase uncertainty in the labour market.  For transport services, the escalation of the importance of time saving factor has favoured the rapid rise of road transport for freight and air transport for passengers.  As mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, the policy challenge of the next years will be to decouple economic development from transport growth and it will require a rethinking of the transport services with the reorganisation of the rail network and flight connections as well as the reorganisation of urban and regional communities.

Energy availability and prices are underlying in the process of globalisation and economic growth. Severe price fluctuations and a high oil price are able to slow growth, raise the unemployment rate and reduce trade and mobility.  Oil prices are expected to remain high and subjected to price volatility.  The rise in fuels prices, especially of oil, will influence transport costs, though might not reduce traffic flows very strongly, since 80% of them are considered as non price sensitive.  Vehicle-miles travelled tend to rebound as consumers become accustomed to the new level of price or income levels rise, and for freight transport, transport costs represent a relative low share of total production and goods prices.

A high oil price might increase the deployment of various oil derivates that could exacerbate the competition for the use of scarce resources as exemplified by the competition between the first generation of biofuels with food production.  Some literature indicates that in 2030, powering 5% of global road transport by biofuel could consume between 20-100% of the total quantity of water now used for agriculture worldwide.  With the global governance lies the responsibility for promoting policies and investments able to manage shared resources in a sustainable way, considering the interrelatedness of water, food and energy security.

The whole analysis of the economy domain has shown that there exist strong and several relationships with all the other fields so far discussed, as it can be assumed as the main pillar of all the activities of human being.  In a parallel with mechanics, the economy works as the engine of a vehicle. Only if such device will be suitably supplied with enough good quality fuel (namely fresh capitals and a highly skilled labour force), the business cycle will continue to run efficiently.

On the other hand, either any fuel leak or low-quality ingredients will definitively affect the amount of its internal revolutions, as well as their regularity, leading to a reduction in the production of goods and services.  An economy in recession is a coughing engine that suffers from disruption of capital and labour supply, or even from wrong investment planning (e.g. inefficient public spending). Re-starting all the correct functions properly is not always an easy task to be tackled, as it requires a deep knowledge on how the economy works, in particular through all the relationships known and discovered so far.

The Environment domain

The climate change factor

On the environmental side several factors may impact on transport sector.

Many impacts of climate change are already visible in Europe and worldwide and these impacts will become more pronounced in the future: many climatologists say the pace of changes is already much faster than they expected ten years ago.  Although there are some positive effects of climate change, like an increasing potential for agriculture at high latitudes and reduced cold stress to humans, most impacts are expected to be adverse.

In the short and medium term climate change will increase the occurrence of extreme weather events, while in the long run it will lead to an increase in average annual temperatures, alter rainfall, and raise the sea level and the risk of coastal erosion.

In Europe, several zones are supposed to be particularly vulnerable: they are generally located in the South and East of Europe, the whole of Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta and Hungary, as well as most of Romania and southern parts of France.  This situation is mostly due to changes in precipitation and an increase in temperature, which have an impact on vulnerable economic sectors. River floods are also likely to contribute to the overall effect in Hungary and Romania.

Literature indicates that by 2050, under a relatively high emissions scenario, the temperatures experienced during the heat wave of 2003 could be an average summer.  In moderate climate zones the demand for energy during the winter months will decline but, on the other hand, in zones with higher temperatures demand for electricity for cooling will increase during the summer and heat waves could significantly increase mortality in older adults.Although the net change in energy demand is difficult to predict, there will be strong distributional patterns with variations in demand for oil and coal in electricity production, having implications also for the transport sector.

Since much of the world's hydrocarbon reserves are in regions vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, instability is likely to increase generating greater energy insecurity and competition for resources.

The UN predicts that there will be millions of "environmental" migrants by 2020 with climate change as one of the major drivers of this phenomenon, and Europe is expected to be affected by increased migratory pressure.

Future projections of climate change suggest that the suitability of the Mediterranean for tourism will decline during the key summer months with an increase during other seasons (spring and autumn).

Changes can be expected also for skiing holidays leading to a shift towards those destinations with higher probabilities of sufficient snow, e.g. areas at higher altitudes.  This can produce distributional impacts in the major flows of tourism within the EU.

Effects of climate change on food production on a global scale show that especially countries at higher latitudes will become more suited for food production; countries at lower latitudes, among which the largest part of developing countries, will become substantially less suited.  The shift of food production will likely also hold for Europe, resulting in an increase in trade and freight flows from South- to North-Europe.

Most writing about climate change and transport emphasises the role of greenhouse gas emissions from transport as a contributor.  However, the inverse impact is also significant, since the transport system is liable to be adversely affected by climate change, particularly as a result of extreme weather conditions that might have immediate impacts on travel and damages that cause lasting service interruptions events.  This is especially true in densely populated regions, such as many coastal areas around the globe, where one single event may lead to a chain of reactions that influence large parts of the transport system.

In coastal cities in particular, sea-level rise can inundate highways and cause erosion of road bases and bridge supports.  Heavy precipitation and its effects in the form of flooding and landslides can cause lasting damage to transportation infrastructure such as highways, seaports, bridges and airport runways.  Higher temperatures, in particular long periods of drought and higher daily temperatures, compromise the integrity of paved roadways and necessitate more frequent repairs.

Although attempts are being made on a worldwide scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate measures (even if successful) will be too late to avert climate change and its impacts over the next 50 years.  It follows that the transport system needs to have resilience built into it in order to deal with these problems, and to stop relatively minor events turning into major catastrophes.  Two aspects of such resilience are identified in the literature: a “long term” aspect in the sense that the transport system should be constructed and developed according to principles that recognise the likelihood and impacts of extreme weather events; contingency plans need to be formulated well in advance of such events occurring.  In particular, such plans should try to ensure network connectivity of the transport system in the face of any disruption.  Firstly this will ensure that “normal activities” can be maintained (as far as possible), thus maintaining territorial cohesion.  Secondly, problems of disconnection are likely to have a direct impact upon the effectiveness of emergency services for dealing with the disruption.

Because of its dependency on fossil fuels in all modes, the transport sector contributes 23% of all CO2 emissions in the EU 27.  Despite significant efforts to reduce emissions, transport has not achieved its decarbonising targets.  Projections indicate that with the existing measures currently in place, emissions will decrease by 2020 in the main emitting sectors, except for the transport sector and emissions from industrial processes.  If this trend continues, transport is expected to contribute 50% of all CO2 emissions in the EU by 2050, if not even within the next two decades.

Given the unsatisfactory results achieved so far in the transport sector and the additional concerns arising from growing motorisation in developing countries, it can be expected that greenhouse gas reduction will become more and more prominent on the agenda of policy makers worldwide.  A great array of GHG mitigation measures can be undertaken to reach the emission targets.  These include technology measures, new policies and a change in lifestyle for all citizens.

Some studies highlight that substantial improvements are achievable today just through greater utilisation of existing technology.  Current vehicle technology can be improved in order to achieve greater fuel efficiency through the development of improved aerodynamic design (especially in the air transport sector), the reduction of vehicles’ weight, the lowering of rolling resistance and the adoption of alternative propulsion technologies.

Transport should become less dependent on fossil fuels, thus contributing to energy security, by relying more and more on low-carbon fuels to be provided at affordable prices and with an efficient distribution networks.  Using a fuel mix of electricity, biofuels, and hydrogen could significantly reduce the number of gasoline-powered passenger vehicles on the road by 2050. Supporting policies will need to pull existing technology in the marketplace and to promote technological development for the future, requiring a combination of performance standards, pricing mechanisms, and research, development, demonstration and deployment actions.

Major and sustained investments might be more and more polarised to the implementation and diffusion of “green” transport solutions, acting as some of the key drivers for the modernisation of the EU economy with huge potential for economic growth and employment in the future.  Recent studies already identify various forms of low carbon energy sources and their supporting systems and infrastructure (including smart grids, passive housing, carbon capture and storage, advanced industrial processes and electrification of transport including energy storage technologies), the key components which might form the backbone of efficient, low carbon energy and transport systems after 2020.

This will require on average over the coming 40 years, the increase in public and private investment  to around € 270 billion annually, thus representing an additional investment of around 1.5% of EU GDP.

Planning measures, especially at urban level, will become more urgent with the need to develop compact communities more conducive to an efficient provision of public transport as well as to shorter vehicle trips and non-motorised travel.  Nevertheless, the literature recognises that initiatives to mitigate climate change through urban design and development are complex and difficult to manage.

Soft measures, such as demand management policies and pricing schemes, might instead constitute an essential part of future policies, having a more direct impact on the spatial and temporal distribution of mobility.

Most strategies to reduce transport GHG emissions also reduce emissions of local conventional pollutants providing environmental co-benefits on air quality, and those that involve reduced vehicle use also reduce traffic congestion and noise.

Energy and CO2 emissions can also be reduced through interventions aimed at increasing drivers’ acceptance of smaller vehicles and less powerful engines and changing driving behaviour, such as reductions in excessive vehicle acceleration and driving speeds.  Eco-driving measures could be massively promoted both in the urban and inter-urban environment through training and information guides, and actively supported by technologies providing real-time information by the vehicle to its driver.

All these measures have a great potential to highly influence both the transport system and demand structure in the future.

The European Union is leading global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from human activities and, as the cornerstone of its strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively, has developed the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) entered into force on 2005. Around 40 % of EU greenhouse gas emissions are currently covered by the EU ETS, with the transport sector as one of the biggest sectors not covered so far.

To tackle the fast-growing emissions from the aviation sector, from 2012 the EU ETS includes also CO2 emissions from civil aviation (all international flights – from or to anywhere in the world – that arrive at or depart from an EU airport).

The literature indicates that the impacts on air transport are expected to be somewhat neutral for airlines with companies expected to pass on, to a large extent or even in full, the cost of participating in the scheme to their customers, which by 2020 might represent an increase of €4.6 to €39.6 per flight, which is a value significantly lower than rises due to oil prices change in recent years.

It might be expected that similar actions will be implemented in the mid to long term also to cover other transport modes: the European Commission has recently launched an on-line public consultation on possible measures to be taken for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

The pollution factor

Measures to reduce noise and environmental pollution from the transport sector are already in place in the most of European countries.

Generally, action to reduce noise has had a lower priority than actions taken to address other environmental problems such as air and water pollution.  However, as more information has become available about the health impacts of noise, the need for a higher level of protection for European citizens has come to be recognised.

Road traffic is the main source of noise in urban areas, accounting for about 80% of total noise pollution.  Recent data suggest that around 40 million people across the EU are exposed to noise above 50 dB from roads within agglomerations during the night.  More than 25 million people are exposed to noise at the same level from major roads outside agglomerations.  A Swedish noise annoyance study identified motorcycle noise as by far the most annoying form of vehicle-related noise in urban areas.

Noise reduction measures are naturally also needed in the rail and air traffic sectors.  Noise pollution from railways remains one of the main barriers for expanding their use in urban areas and along densely populated rail freight corridors; and aircraft noise is often the reason for the difficulty of expanding airport capacity at major European hubs.

However, the local authorities have very limited scope for action in the rail and air area, due to the involvement of national and international administrative bodies. For this reason railway noise abatement is part of the EC Greening transport package, which aims to move transport further towards sustainability, and aircraft noise reduction strategies are implemented in EU legislation by Directive 2002/30/EC, which deals with the introduction of noise related operating restrictions at EU airports.

There are essentially two routes to noise abatement.  Firstly, noise emissions can be reduced at their source, through technical measures (e.g. solutions applied to power trains, tyre/road interaction, retrofitting of existing rail rolling stock), infrastructure solutions (e.g. poroelastic asphalt, rail track upgrading) and traffic management schemes (e.g. reduction of vehicles’ speed in sensitive areas, access restriction for noisy trains); also fiscal policies are active in some countries to incentivise the use of low-noise vehicles.

Secondly, noise can be abated by reducing the exposure of people by means of anti-propagation or insulation measures (by increasing the distance between source and recipient, for example, or hampering noise propagation by insulating buildings or constructing noise barriers).

The limiting of noise in urban areas could play an essential role in future city planning and management and noise exposure standards might be set and enforced for several different environments (outdoor living area, dwelling interiors, schools, etc.), as is the case with current EU air quality standards.  The potential for closer co-ordination and integration of air quality and noise management has been suggested frequently.

This might require the introduction of more diffused traffic management schemes potentially impacting on demand distribution by diverting demand towards less sensitive (and thus free from restrictions) areas, as well as on modal split by inducing a higher usage of public transport modes.

As far air pollution is concerned, the reviewed literature indicates that, at present, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide and ozone are the most problematic pollutants in terms of health effects in most European urban areas.  Traffic emissions of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) are the local pollutants of most concern as the daily limit value of PM10 and the annual limit value for NO2 are exceeded most extensively.

Ozone is a strong photochemical oxidant which, in elevated concentrations, causes serious health problems and damage to materials and vegetation.  The road transport sector is a major source of the ozone precursors NOx and CO by contributing respectively about 42 % and 34 % of total EU‑27 emissions in 2009.

Air pollution may also impact the Earth's climate since some air pollutants interfere with the Earth's energy balance leading to a net warming effect in the atmosphere.

The application of technology has been the primary means of reducing the environmental impacts of transport in the last two decades; the Euro standards for vehicles have been, and continue to be, introduced in phases, with the introduction times and actual standards varying by pollutant, vehicle category and vehicle weight class or engine volume and fuel type.  To further reduce road transport's impact on air quality, diesel NOx emissions could for example be targeted through technologies for diesel-powered vehicles such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) (especially for heavy-duty vehicles).

Directive 2009/33/EC on the “Promotion of Clean and Energy Efficient Road Transport Vehicles” aims at stimulating broad market introduction of environmentally friendly vehicles. The Directive requires that energy and environmental impacts linked to vehicle operation be incorporated in purchase decisions.  These lifetime impacts include vehicle energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and emissions of the regulated pollutants of NOx, non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) and PM.

Besides these interventions targeted to vehicle fleets’ innovation also traffic management measures and pricing policies are becoming more frequent at local level to reduce the exposure of population living in urban areas from high concentration of air pollutants.

Such kind of solutions might become more common in the future, with cities more and more obliged to apply ever-stricter air quality legislation, and to reduce transport-related emissions in line with increasingly stringent European and global targets.  Greater priority will be placed on policies for the prevention and avoidance of congestion, which will inevitably include measures such as access control and road charging to manage the level of demand.

The resources factor

Energy is a basic need for the society and its pattern of availability, production and consumption are of greatest relevance in the context of the economic and environmental domains.  When looking at European energy demand in all sectors data show that demand increased by 77 million tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) from 2000 and 2008 and then sharply dropped by 99 million TOE to 2009, with this decrease due to the economic crisis.  This sharp decrease confirms once again the strong relationship between economic growth and energy demand. When looking at the fuel mix used to produce energy in Europe it can be noted that small changes have occurred since 2000.  After plummeting from 27 % to 18.5 % in the previous decade, the share of solid fuels in total consumption fell to 15.7 % in 2009.  The share of crude oil and petroleum products also decreased slightly from 38 % to 36.5 % between 2000 and 2009.  Natural gas consumption, on the other hand, increased from 23 % to 24.5 %, and renewables consumption went up from 6 % to almost 9 % during the same period.  Nuclear energy was the only energy source that experienced a trend reversal: after growing from 12 % to 14 % in the 1990s, consumption fell slightly to 13.5 % in 2009.

Europe is relatively resource poor and it relies on foreign resources to meet its growing energy needs. Recent statistics show that dependence on energy imports grew from 46.8 to 53.9 % between 2000 and 2009; in 2009 dependence was highest for crude oil with an import share of 83.5 %, followed by natural gas (64%) and hard coal (62 %).

Worldwide demand for energy is growing at an alarming rate and projections suggest that by 2030 world energy use will probably have increased by more than 50 per cent, thus exacerbating the competition for the primary energy sources.  Nowadays the dynamics of energy markets are increasingly determined by countries outside the OECD and it is expected for non-OECD countries to account for 90% of population growth, 70% of the increase in economic output and 90% of energy demand growth over the period 2010 to 2035.

Electricity production accounts for 32% of world global fossil fuel use and around 41% of total energy related CO2 emissions.  Not only the burning of fossil fuels (coal, lignite, oil and natural gas) is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, but the extraction of coal, oil and gas as well as leaks from gas pipelines are among the main sources of energy-related methane emissions.

Current trends are economically, socially and environmentally unsustainable and, without decisive actions, global electricity generation will continue to be largely based on fossil fuels.  In that case energy-related greenhouse emissions will more than double by 2050 and increased oil demand will heighten concerns over the security of supplies.

In this context of great European energy dependence and environmental concerns, it seems hard to predict what might be the fuel mix of EU energy production in the next decades.  Most measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in some way target energy consumption and the fuel mix.  One such measure is shifting from solid fuels, which are high-carbon sources of energy, to lower-carbon sources such as natural gas. This, however, has been one of the underlying causes of greater energy dependence in the EU.  Today the majority of Russia’s exports continues to go westwards to traditional markets in Europe, but a shift towards Asian markets gathers momentum, increasing the concern about energy availability.

Some studies predict that in 2050 more domestic energy resources would be used, in particular renewables.  Imports of oil and gas might decline by half compared to today, reducing the negative impacts of potential oil and gas price shocks significantly.

While there is agreement that electricity will have a role in transport, opinions diverged on how large its potential is.  Some see a broad scope, arguing that electricity is the way forward even if electricity production releases carbon, simply because electric engines are more efficient than internal combustion engines.  This view was challenged on the grounds that the additional electricity produced for transport will come from carbon-intensive fuels until the extra demand is large enough to justify investments in other sources.

Alternative sources of energy in transport might be biofuels; nevertheless the literature review showed that the economics of conversion processes need to be further improved for biofuels to be really competitive with fossil fuels without subsidies in the longer term.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future sources of European energy production, it can be more certainly argued that energy “saving” and “efficiency” measures will become more and more prominent in the next decades especially in the transport sector  which is the largest energy-consuming sector in the EU27 with road transport the biggest consumer with the strongest reliance on fossil fuel.

Energy efficiency in transport will rely on a broad range of technological solutions: traction technologies encompassing new engines and alternative sustainable fuels, improved vehicles aerodynamics and weight, regenerative breaking devices, modernising infrastructure and optimising operations.

Also information and communication technologies are considered to offer a great potential for achieving a more efficient and less energy consuming intelligent transport system. They may have strong influence on personal decisions (for instance on purchasing vehicle or on choosing the travel mode), thus driving human behaviour towards more sustainable patterns.

Some literature suggests that the private economic cost of transport fuels will be by far higher than those of today, whatever mix of sources, carriers, and conversion systems there may be in the future. Therefore, the role of efficiency in the transport sector will become critical, not only in terms of the environment, but also in terms of the overall affordability of mobility.

While it is clear that the roadmap for the transport system is to shift from carbon to low-carbon energy sources, it is unclear when this shift would be completed and whether this might occur in time to avoid major problems arising from the scarcity of fossil fuels and especially from oil.

Fossil fuel reserves are concentrated in a small number of countries.  Some 80 % of the coal reserves are located in just six countries and the EU has just 4 % of the global total.  The EU share of the world's reserves decreased from 4.6 % in 1980 to 1.3 % in 2009.  More than half of the global stock is found in only three countries: Iran, Qatar and Russia.

Oil production has long been expected to peak.  Some think that this is now imminent at least within the next 10 years.  For others the scarcity of oil supplies, including unconventional sources and natural gas liquids, is very unlikely before 2025.  Some others consider this horizon could be extended to 2040 by adopting known measures to increase vehicle efficiency and focusing oil demand on the transport sector.  Additionally, some economists believe that the scarcer and more expensive a commodity becomes, the more effort will go into finding it, and that the market will ensure plentiful supplies of fossil fuel for many years ahead.

Even though it cannot be said with certainty that we will run out in the next thirty years, extracting and delivering the remaining oil to market is becoming increasingly difficult and costly: as reserves that are easy to access run out, the oil production has to rely on less accessible resources and on fossil fuels with lower energy content.  Fossil fuels that are currently extracted from deposits would have been considered uneconomic two decades ago.  This requires more transport and more energy with higher environmental impacts per unit of material or energy produced. While improving vehicle efficiency is by far the most important low-cost way of reducing oil consumption and carbon emissions in the transport sector, biofuels are supposed to play a significant role in replacing liquid fossil fuels suitable for planes, marine vessels and other heavy transport modes that cannot be electrified.

Nevertheless, reviewed literature has highlighted the presence of several barriers to be removed for a massive diffusion of biofuels.

Firstly, when considering production costs, biofuels are not competitive with fossil fuels today and scale and efficiency improvements are indispensable to reduce costs over time.  For all biofuels, there is scope for cost reductions: capital costs are expected to come down as a result of scaling up (particularly for advanced biofuels). Co-location with existing biofuel plants, power plants or other industrial facilities reduces capital costs and can bring further benefits such as more efficient use of by-products; conversion costs can be brought down through scaling up and technology learning. Further improvement of conversion efficiency (e.g. through more efficient enzymes) and energy efficiency should also help to reduce costs; feedstock costs cannot be predicted and are subject to agricultural commodity prices, oil prices and other factors. Enhancing feedstock flexibility will create access to a broader range of biomass sources with potentially low costs (such as residues) and reduced price volatility.  Improving and creating transport infrastructure could further reduce biomass supply costs.

Secondly, there is an urgent need to scale up investment in low-carbon energy technologies.  Current investment levels are insufficient to make the necessary transition, and investment in traditional fossil-based technologies needs to be shifted towards low-carbon energy technologies. Fiscal policy measures might be important in helping to redress investments.  As a first step, fossil fuel subsidies, which are still applied in many countries, should be phased out.  A taxation system based on the environmental and energy performance of individual fuel types, including a carbon tax (as is already the case in Sweden) might be one way of placing value on biofuels’ environmental and societal contribution, and of reducing gaps in competitiveness with fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, a key non-economic barrier to the development of biofuels is uncertainty regarding their sustainability.  The sometimes controversial public debate on competition with food production and the potential destruction of valuable ecosystems has put biofuels into the centre of a sustainability discussion that concerns all forms of bioenergy and which (in parts) is relevant to the entire agricultural and forestry sector.  For biofuels to provide the envisaged emission reductions in the transport sector, it is essential to avoid large releases of GHG caused by land-use changes.

Besides the scarcity of fossil fuels, reviewed literature showed that other kinds of shortages are expected to occur in the next decades which might have impacts on the European transport sector. The accessibility and affordability of non-energy, non-agricultural raw materials is in fact crucial for the production of vehicles and transport infrastructure which require large amounts of materials and might be hampered by a limited or more costly supply of certain raw materials. Stocks of 14 groups of raw materials are considered 'critical' due to their high economic importance and high supply risk within the next 10 years.  The EU has very few reserves of some, such as gallium (used in photovoltaics and microchips), tantalum (used in microelectronic capacitors), germanium (used in fibreglass cables) and neodymium (used in high performance magnets), which are essential for high-tech applications.

Due to rising raw material input costs in the steel and non-ferrous metals industry, the automotive industry might face serious challenges, since cars are complex products consisting largely of steel, non-ferrous metals, as well as polymers, rubber and glass.

Furthermore, as a result of the future developments in car-design, the demand for critical raw materials is expected to increase.  Environmental standards and requirements and customer convenience play an especially crucial role here. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the demand for rare earths and lithium will rise, due to more use of advanced electronics, magnetic materials, new surface treatment systems and alternative propulsion technologies.  This might increase the competition on such kind of resources.  A study on resource productivity points out that, if the prices of more raw materials inputs used in the car production go up, the product price for the final customer would also go up significantly thus reducing the affordability of cars.

Resource-efficient technologies and the use of recyclates and substitutes are the two main strategies the automotive industry is deploying to reduce dependency on raw materials.  The recycling of scrap cars is of key importance and it is adequately regulated by the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive (ELV Directive 2000/53/EC).  The more recent Directive on Reusability, Recyclability and Recoverability of motor vehicles Directive 2005/64/EC) set new requirements for vehicle recycling.  In 2008 total reuse, recovery and recycling rates varied between 79.8-92.9% in the Member States, with Germany having the highest rate in Europe.

Nevertheless ACEA estimates that the first significant volumes for recycling of electrical vehicles, which contain rare earths, cobalt and lithium, will come around 2025-2030 at the earliest, while demand for these materials is expected to boom around 2015-2020.  In this context it becomes crucial for the competitiveness of the industry to have a new generation of batteries based on other materials by 2025-2030.

The Technology domain

The technology development factor

On the technological side several factors are expected to contribute to the development of the future transport system and to influence mobility patterns.

The technology development in general and the diffusion of innovation, if considered in its stricter sense, has influenced human activities since the beginning of historical times, but in the last few decades its pace has become faster and faster.  New technologies are affecting almost every aspect of our life (labour, travel, leisure, health, etc.) and have started to change our daily habits significantly.

With a major focus on travel habits in particular, within these new spreading technologies the most pre-eminent role is played by information and communication technologies (ICT).  ICTs in fact have the great potential to lessen (and sometimes also to cancel) the conventional constraints of time and space, which are the two physical dimensions that give rise to the need of travel.

New patterns of mobility are emerging since “tele-working” and “on-line shopping”, just to name a few, have become feasible.  Nonetheless, the reviewed literature has shown that it would be misleading to conclude that the increasing diffusion of ICTs could reduce the need to travel in general.  Innovation per se has not this powerful influence and the introduction and the diffusion of technology may produce some “rebound effects”: in most cases the improvements in the efficiency of the transport system (increasing speed, decreasing congestion, improving transport conditions) may lead to an increase in travel demand.

The awareness of this one-to-one connection between transport and technologies has to be widely achieved yet.  Technologies can not only be considered simply as one among all the external factors impacting on the transport sector: they have, indeed, a key role in shaping its development and their diffusion within the sector has become a more and more impelling need.  Negative environmental impacts (climate change impacts, pollution levels, GHG emissions) and several inefficiencies (loss of energy, inefficient use of raw materials and resources and waste of time) are, in fact, some of the key drivers for the continuous development of innovation and technologies in the sector.

All the efforts undergone in this sense are directed towards a sustainable way of travel, aiming at minimising environmental and social negative impacts.  As the literature review confirms, a shift from “technology-push” innovations towards “demand-pull” innovations has started to occur and users have become the core target of new technologies.

New challenges are emerging: for instance, one main issue would be the improvement of the quality of time spent during travel (e.g. enhancing the possibilities to perform different activities such as using laptops, phones or tablets while being seated in a train or a bus, or, in future, even being driven by our own car in a “drive-train”).  These new objectives are replacing the traditional search for technologies aiming at increasing speed further, even also some physical constraints seem, at the time, impossible to be overcome.

Thus, emerging users habits, lifestyles and needs will account increasingly for the provision of new technologies.  Changing behaviour and shortening the digital divide (inequalities in accessing new IT technologies depending on different levels of education, disposable incomes and professional positions) with educational efforts are the prerequisites for a wide and equal diffusion of innovation and technologies across different countries and social groups.  Within the literature several documents clearly assert that a strong political commitment is needed in order to face these new challenges.

Furthermore, the need for public support and funding has become more evident through the years: innovation may only be spread, if funds for investments are available and, in this respect, policy and planning play an essential role.

On the other side the application of technology developments in the transport sector might reduce the need for funding new infrastructures through the optimisation and integration of the existing ones.

Especially under a global downturn in the economy, a deeper insight should be reserved to “soft” innovations driven by technology improvements which proved to be the most effective in tackling transportation issues without major infrastructure investments.

The vehicle technology factor

The analysis of which impacts may derive from the spread diffusion of innovation in the transport sector started from an insight about of the design of vehicles.

The reviewed literature showed that the impact of technological innovations is not the same in relation to the different transport modes.  In rail transport the slow pace of innovation is almost inherent in its nature: public spending and large amounts of investment in infrastructures and networking could not easily justify further investment aiming at the introduction of “disruptive technologies”.  If adopted, however, these disruptive technologies would lead, for instance, to the replacement of tracks with something totally different, thus changing radically the mode itself (traction, infrastructure, vehicle, etc.).  New technological improvements, as far as the railway mode is concerned, are envisaged in a general trend towards increasing adaptability of the railway to different spatial dimensions, trying to stimulate the spread of rail in the largest number of contexts and especially in urban areas (e.g. suspended light-rail within urban areas).

On the contrary, major technical advancements have traditionally involved air transport.  In this case, entrance barriers to the market and high-skill technological expertise has led to a logical and quite regular “step by step” technological development.  At present, more attention has started to be reserved to airports and land-side facilities and infrastructure, trying to manage successfully the increasing air travel demand.  However, improvements in aerodynamics and in engines are still at the core of the research given their potential in increasing the energy efficiency.

On the basis of these considerations, it can be easily argued (and literature confirms it) that the private mode is by far the more suitable one for testing innovations and for diffusing them.  Firstly, cars can offer a wide range of aspects to be improved both concerning their body (material, aerodynamics, etc.) and several on-board appliances and equipments (which are increasingly indispensible to the functionality of vehicles themselves).  Secondly, within this mode there are less constraints (physical but also financial) which have the power to hinder the development of new technologies.  A great variety of car manufacturers compete worldwide in order to pioneer innovations resulting from their R&D activities.

From the literature review it clearly emerged that innovations in cars are driven mostly by environmental concerns.  The main targets of current technological development are the reduction of occupied space (in order to decrease congestion) thus designing micro city-cars to be used in urban schemes and the mitigation of the environmental impacts (pollutant emissions and noise).

Literature shows that one of the most common trends (at least in urban areas) is towards smaller electric vehicles (for instance stackable city-car or folding scooters) with a high level of automated driving devices, offering valid solutions to meet environmental sustainability, safety issues and users’ emerging needs.  Some of these vehicles are already purchasable (for instance the Renault Twizy).

New vehicles are also generally characterised by a wider diffusion of new equipments for elderly drivers and occupants.

The major barrier to innovations is however related to a general conservative attitude affecting people, who might be reluctant to changes in their travel habits.

Thus, all these new vehicles designed in order to tackle environmental and societal issues, will provide only little benefit to the transport sector (with measurable impacts only on a small portion of trips), until they will become so pervasive to present themselves as a self-reliant technology which can act a as a driving force in leading daily choices of future generations.

Strictly connected with the sphere of the design for new vehicles, improvements and diffusion of innovations in advanced driving devices are gradually emerging from a niche position market to a massive diffusion.  More and more vehicles are being equipped with these devices, even the cheaper ones. Primarily these equipments are targeted at improving safety conditions for the vehicles. Safety may be hampered by weather (scarce visibility, diminished grip on the roadway due to fog, rain etc.) and road conditions (accidents which are occupying the carriageway) on one side and by driver conditions on the other (drowsiness, slow reflexes especially in elderly people, lack of attention).

Most of these devices can be classified as active devices as they are able to avoid collisions.  Other devices are instead developed in order to improve the quality of health assistance in case of an accident (Automated Emergency Call).

In particular, from the literature review a greater attention towards these automated devices is emerging, not only because they address the expected aging of population, but mainly because of the willingness to achieve the final aim in the near future “to be driven by the vehicle, rather than drive it”. Some tests have already been carried out in order to check the feasibility of “road-trains” (a sort of chain of communicating vehicles led by an intelligent one giving instructions to the others). This technology has proved to be cost effective (no huge investments are required to adapt the infrastructure), environmental friendly (reduction of fuel consumption and decreasing congestion) and, last but not least, benefiting also drivers as they might spend their time performing other activities (writing, working, eating, etc).  And value of time is known to be one of the most important factors in the choice of the transport mode.

The other major branch of development of these devices is the provision of information to the drivers in order to prevent them from driving into possible bottlenecks caused by road works or accidents.

In addition to the cultural change needed to let these new technologies become the daily habits of our future life, also political and legislative aspects have to be tackled with (interoperability of the systems at European level, road prescriptions, etc).

In the field of vehicle innovation, traction technologies are the most explored and investigated.  According to the literature review it can be stated that the internal combustion engine (ICE) will still play an important role in the future.  Obviously, many improvements are to be performed regarding GHG emissions, energy efficiency and costs, but, at the moment, though many alternatives are quite fully developed, no one of these has proved to be totally successful in replacing the “old” conventional ICE.

It is not feasible at the moment to state with any certainty which technology will be the real breakthrough in the traction of vehicles.  Nevertheless, literature seems to agree that the most likely would be electricity.  Until the massive diffusion of fully electric vehicles (FEV) will take place, nowadays hybrid solutions (HV or PHEV– plug-in hybrid vehicles) are gradually gaining higher and higher market shares.  Hybrid vehicles have many advantages in terms of energy efficiency, even though these advantages are still counterbalanced by the weight of the batteries, which make the vehicles heavier than traditional ones and also raise some safety issues.

Thus, in parallel, research has started to look for new materials for lighter and high-performance batteries (super-capacitors).  New materials will allow in general a reduction in the weight of vehicles and an increase in vehicles’ performance, thus improving fuel efficiency and environmental impacts. Nanotechnologies and materials with higher performances are now a major focus for the research and development sector and it can be easily foreseen that specific raw materials are going to be exploited more extensively than ever.As electricity is supposed to become the major source of traction in the next future, its availability and sustainable production is one of the most impending challenges. 

Besides the engine factor, the other main branch of research on new traction technologies regards fuels.  Most alternative fuels come from bio-sources (biofuels): such a production still raises significant concerns about its sustainability in terms of biodiversity’s preservation, land-use mitigation and total life-cycle assessment emissions.  Thus, in more recent years, the production of biofuels has moved towards the so-called second and third generation (from waste material, such as cellulosic ethanol).

Other potential for fuel is considered to be in hydrogen, but in this case new technological improvements are needed to significantly reduce total GHG emissions.

As these new traction technologies are today less powerful than ICE in terms of covered kilometres, urban areas have proved to be the most suitable environment to test innovative tractions, both for small distances usually covered in cities and for the high costs of equipping roads with proper infrastructures to refill vehicles (supply stations and/or alternative fuels station).

From an economic point of view, large amounts of funds and investments will be of vital importance to further develop innovations and making them widely affordable.  This aspect is of crucial importance especially if the target is a real breakthrough in traction.  The public fiscal revenue from oil fuels still represents one of the strongest hurdles in this sense.  However, the reviewed documents solidly support the hypothesis that smart and effective policies could help to get over such barriers.

The ICT and telematics factor

ICT and telematics contribute to the innovation of transport modes for a major part: doubtlessly, during the last few years, the most significant changes occurred in travel habits and modes of transport have been driven by the increasing role of ICT.

Traffic management systems started to be applied in the rail sector to manage signalling information for trains’ circulation.  As technology improved and became more low-cost and accessible, it started to be applied also on the road network.  Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) were initially developed in order to find a solution to reduce congestion in urban areas, trying to improve the efficiency of the infrastructures.  As they proved to be quite effective, their use has increasingly developed.  Nowadays ITS applications are common both in urban (parking information, variable message signs (VMS), public transport prioritisation, etc.) and in interurban areas, managing problems connected with rerouting (accidents or weather conditions), tolling or for automated enforcement for safety reasons. Some cooperative systems have recently been developed: one of the new challenges to be addressed relates to the interoperability of the different systems (between vehicles, between vehicles and infrastructure, between countries, etc). Further innovations will be required in integrating, processing and disseminating data, in order to make information fully comparable and useful.

Traffic management systems and information in general are, according to literature, very important tools for planning.  With relatively small investments, they can lead to significant improvements in public transport, in reducing congestion, waste of time and avoiding further large investments, for example in constructing new roads.  Traffic management systems are now spread in all major European cities, as their benefits are more and more evident in terms of environmental impacts (reduced congestion, emissions, fuel consumption) but also for levy management (tolling, road charging).

Continuity and standardisation are essential for fully exploiting the potential of such technologies for international journeys.  Very important achievements in optimising the freight scheduling have also contributed to improve general traffic conditions.

To conclude, it is commonly agreed, that traffic management systems can really help in tackling main negative aspects of transport: other potential applications to be further explored are those supporting new services or schemes (e.g. the sharing of private vehicles) paving the way for new sustainable mobility patterns.

Information systems are playing a key role in the transport sector.  As literature shows, thanks to the wide spread of information, people are becoming increasingly more conscious of their mobility choices, discovering benefits of using public transport and taking advantage of well-planned intermodal journeys.

The availability of real-time information has been one of the most significant changes in recent years. Real-time data from monitoring sensors, for example, is a key element for traffic management centres and for public transport operators (e.g. for fleet location as well as for informing users on schedules, fares, and delays).  From the literature review clearly emerges the “social” role played by ICT today. The way we work, do our businesses, purchase things (goods or services), has being strongly affected by the spread of real-time information provided by ICT, thus changing the reasons for which we need to move and finally the way we actually do it.  Some social trends are being enhanced by information systems: it is the case for instance of the increase in migration flows which is somehow fostered by the evidence that keeping in touch with people from the origin country has become easier and more convenient.  Re-location of housing in peripheral and suburban areas has been amplified by the feasibility of teleworking.  ICT is also knocking down barriers allowing disabled people and elderly to move comfortably across different modes thanks to increasing dedicated services.

From an economic perspective the literature review confirms that information systems can have several benefits: individuals can save time and money thanks to less congestion; public transport operators and authorities may improve efficiency and reliability and increase their income by attracting more users through innovative services such as booking and payment; manufacturing and freight companies can improve their productivity thanks to a more efficient logistic chain.

Last but not least, society as a whole has real benefits in terms of lives saved and reduced insurance and health costs related.  Thanks to less congestion and to an increased flow of information regarding road conditions the number of accidents has diminished and, on the other side, emergency services have improved. Intelligent Transport Systems are able to pinpoint accidents, help determine their entity, direct emergency vehicles to the accident site more quickly and find the best route to hospitals.

Efficiency in general is a key factor in tackling environmental impacts (GHG emissions, pollution, energy consumption, etc.) and the contribution of Intelligent Transport Systems in reducing such inefficiencies (by efficiently redirecting traffic flows throughout the road network) is confirmed in the majority of the reviewed documents.

Amongst the main barriers related to the spread of these technologies and systems there are regulatory issues and a digital divide.  Many regulatory actions should be implemented in order to diminish market fragmentation between different operators and countries. The interoperability of the different transport systems can be achieved from a technological perspective: further efforts need to be made instead in terms of policy actions to achieve a real cooperation between operators for building a seamless transport system.

A second aspect to be taken into account is the different level of digital skills across countries and within each country between people from different economic and social conditions.  Though the spread of “smart-phones” is increasing very fast, purchasing them is not affordable for everyone, and today not everyone has adequate skills to exploit the transport applications offered by these devices.

The first effect of an increasing availability of information on different modal options is the need for interlinked connections also from the point of view of tickets and fares.  Information technology is fostering more and more the diffusion of electronic booking and payment systems.  Nowadays it is quite common to book and purchase travel tickets on-line for different transport modes.  Ticketing systems present great advantages in terms of general efficiency for the transport sector.  Users can save time (or even avoid trips to purchase tickets in advance) and can sometimes also save money (as electronic ticketing systems calculate the lowest fare for their trips); on the other side public transport operators may rely on precious data on users’ travel habits and behaviour thus having a better chance to efficiently plan different targeted solutions.  Nonetheless, thanks to these revolutionary systems, tickets and fares can be treated as a “consumer product” to all effects: discounts and low rates can be easily foreseen and applied for specific time slots (non-peak hours) or particular areas.  In general traffic conditions can be efficiently improved thanks to considerable reductions in waiting time, for instance at toll-barriers or while catching the bus.  The interoperability of ticketing systems has great potential for international tourist flows and business trips.

Providing information requires collecting it.  Monitoring systems have been increasing in number and application in recent years.  Sensors are being installed along roads for different purposes: speed cameras to detect vehicles’ speed (for safety reasons), inductive loops to count traffic flows and measure speeds and send this data to traffic management (for information) and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) for plate recognition (for road charging).

The Literature review commonly agrees on the evidence that monitoring devices can contribute to  increase transport safety e.g. through systems for blind spot detection, speed monitoring and breakdown diagnostics.

On-board devices are more and more frequently installed in vehicles in order to increase safety both in an active way (preventing accidents by informing the driver of potentially dangerous situations; some equipments are also able to take actions to avoid accidents) and in a passive way (to reduce the impacts of the crash in case of unavoidable collision).

Causes of accidents may also be better investigated thanks to special monitoring devices on vehicles, thus offering the real picture of what happened in the car before the impact.  This deeper knowledge may help to improve accident prevention.

The energy factor

Also in terms of energy, technology has been playing an increasing role in the last decades: new sources for energy production are always under development.  Earlier on energy has been discussed in terms of demand, consumption and production, while this section focuses on renewable energy: the desirable and environment-friendly shift to electric traction or hybrid engines will imply a boost in energy demand for the transport sector, and therefore the investigation of new sources for renewable energy will likely be the main stream of research in the field of energy.  The target is to achieve a less fossil-fuel based system.  Some literature states that without any relevant change in policies and actions, the future production of energy will be still dominated by fossil fuels. This scenario looks totally unsustainable.

So far the number of vehicles running by electricity produced from renewables is low, but it is expected to grow rapidly; this objective is in line with the Renewable Energy Directive which sets a 10 % minimum target to be achieved by all EU Member States for the share of renewable energy in EU transport petrol and diesel consumption by 2020.

Several companies and governments started to finance investments in the sector of renewables.  The increasing spread of renewable sources impacts positively both on the environment (GHG emissions can be significantly reduced thanks to this energy production) and on the economic sector as well (new jobs can be created due to an increasing share of investments in renewable sector even though under economic downturn periods).

Globally, energy production from renewable sources has increased, with a different mix in different countries.

In addition to research efforts in terms of technological improvements, there is still much to do in order to overtake policy barriers: incentives have to be urgently foreseen in order to sustain the development of these sustainable alternative energy sources.

The other main target that technology development and innovation may help to achieve is the reduction in energy consumption (fixed in a 20% cut by 2020 in the Energy Efficiency Plan 2011). Energy is vital for social and economic aspects of our life: without energy our society cannot survive or thrive, and, as already pointed out above, the demand for energy is expected to grow further while   (as already explained above) Europe’s energy security still largely depends on extra-EU imports.

Against these unsustainable trends, energy efficiency can be a cost-effective solution.  Policies started to pave the way in this direction introducing the concept of energy labels for most household appliances and recently extending its use to other sectors (buildings, and tyres will be soon labelled as well).  More consciousness in consumers has risen in recent years thanks to these policies, making people more aware of the environmental effects of their choices when purchasing home-appliances or cars.  But there is still much to do from the political side for addressing the challenge of energy efficiency. Incentives and investments should be introduced systematically in every sector, and in transport in particular as it accounts for 32% of final energy consumption.  Investing in energy efficiency might also have substantial positive impacts on the economic domain (in particular on employment - creating new jobs) and on the environmental domain as each gain in term of energy efficiency directly results in a reduction in emissions and pollutants.

As far as the transport sector is concerned, innovative solutions in vehicles (related to traction technologies, vehicle design, on-board devices and materials) can provide remarkable results in terms of energy efficiency.  In moving towards these targets, the public sector is supposed to play a leading role, thus giving the example to the private sector (both to companies and to citizens), by being a precursor in adopting these solutions.

KEY challenges for future policy and planning

Future planning and policy interventions are crucial in addressing the new challenges deriving from the key drivers.  To meet the traveller needs of an ageing population the transport system needs to be adapted to cope with the reduced physical and cognitive capabilities of elderly.  Transport policy measures are supposed to increasingly address the characteristics and the needs of the future population in order to support both private and collective mobility of elderly as long as possible.

As urbanisation continues to be a relevant phenomenon, urban and suburban transport networks must be properly planned to face an increasing number of people that will travel in and across urban centres.  Measures to tackle congestion, air pollution and noise will be applied more and more in metropolitan and urban areas.  Public transport has to be properly planned and subsidised in order to satisfy the potential increase in demand.

The emerging “sustainable consumption” culture on transport which is contributing to and increasing the shift towards alternative mobility by walking and cycling in urban areas should be properly incentivised by adequate planning and policy measures.

Awareness campaigns and training on environmental issues, already proved to be cost-effective, should become a major priority for policy makers.

In parallel with increasing efforts in enhancing environmental consciousness, appropriate fiscal policy measures and market regulation should be more and more implemented, in order to make environmental aspects enter the market (ETS, polluter-pays and user-pays policies to be extensively applied).  In addition market regulation should be properly developed in order to prevent inefficiencies and/or inequalities while applying these mechanisms.

Increasing scarcity of fossil fuels and environmental concerns are accelerating the pace for technological development.  Policy measures have to increasingly support the investments sustaining the spread of innovations in the “green transport” sector.

Future transport planning should take account of the possibility for the transport systems to be severely affected by extreme weather conditions and disruptive events in order to develop some resilience to these aspects and to prevent major damage from services and network interruptions.

It is up to all policy levels (European, national and local) to take into account all the challenges deriving from expected trends and exploiting all the potential in order to satisfy future traveller needs and to drive the changes on a sustainable track.