Road user charging can only help to reduce the road transport sector’s carbon footprint if policymakers adopt the right framework and reinvest the revenues generated at source, thereby enabling transport operators to innovate and embrace new technologies.
That was the conclusion reached by representatives of the European commercial road transport sector last week at IRU’s flagship event in the European Union, the IRU-EU Conference, organised with the support of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Transport produces around a quarter of CO2 emissions in the EU. According to a 2018 study on the external costs of all transport modes cited by the European Commission, commercial road transport is responsible for less than 10% of these costs. Yet, road transport operators’ contributions continue to make up a very high share of the total amount of revenues collected annually.
More than 200 representatives of the road transport sector and the EU institutions gathered in Brussels on 6 March to discuss the best way forward to decarbonise road transport more effectively.
Conference participants stressed the importance of reinvesting toll and tax revenues into road infrastructure and road transport-related projects, which would in turn help to reduce external transport costs at source.
The Eurovignette in particular should be used as a tool to support the road transport sector’s decarbonisation and safety efforts, and not as an instrument to promote modal shift policies.
The inclusion of bus and coach transport in road user charging was intensively debated. Collective passenger transport represents another possible solution to reducing the transport industry’s carbon footprint, and its positive benefits for society and the environment should be duly recognised through the provision of appropriate support and incentives.
The industry stands ready to play its part in achieving the EU’s ambitious climate goals and to invest in new technologies, including electrification and alternative fuels alike, as long as the necessary steps are taken to make such innovations readily accessible and affordable for all.