Sweden seeks to foster sustainable transport

EPA publishes research suggesting routes to greater integration of environmental issues

The Swedish environmental protection agency (EPA) has published three studies aimed at integrating environmental considerations into EU transport policy, as part of its attempts to build a European consensus on the subject.

Covering fuel and vehicle tax policy, financing available for transport infrastructure and wider attempts to integrate environmental concerns into transport policy, the studies were commissioned by Euro Est. This is a project run by seven Swedish transport and environment authorities and research institutes, including the national environment protection agency.

The programme takes as its starting point a European Environment Agency assessment, in its 1998 annual report, that transport is one of the main causes of environmental problems in Europe, contributing to air pollution, climate change, noise and landscape degradation. It affirms that effective action is only possible on an international scale. But project leader Lars Westermark acknowledges that "progress so far has been limited and painfully slow."

The first report, by the UK-based Institute for European Environmental Policy, examines the disparities between the structure and rates of taxation on fuels and vehicles across the EU, assessing factors - such as cross-border trade in fuels - which account for them. It concludes that progress towards integrating the polluter pays principle and need to internalise external costs is still slow.

A second study, by Sweden's Inregia, concludes that EU involvement has increased the concern for environmental considerations within funds financing infrastructure development. This is partly due to the requirement for environmental impact assessments. Progress towards more sustainable transport systems is still, however, highly uneven within the region.

A third study, by the Swedish EPA, contains a comprehensive country-by-country analysis of approaches to date to integrate environmental concerns into transport policy. It also contains nine case studies on objective and target-setting, and the use of environmental management systems.

Follow Up:
Euro EST, tel: +46 8 698 1000.

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