EU to promote trains and bicycles to make travel more sustainable

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  • The EU makes some proposals on sustainable mobility.
    The EU makes some proposals on sustainable mobility. Source: Unsplash.

The Committee of the Regions, a European institution representing regional and local administrations, has issued an opinion with policy recommendations on mobility-related ecotourism.

It is estimated that carbon emissions from transport linked to tourism will rise by 25% by 2030. These are figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Transport Forum and included in the opinion, showing the ever-greater need to adopt solutions.

The opinion ‘Towards more sustainable tourism for EU cities and regions’, clearly point at the need for EU member states to work urgently to overcome the lack of sustainable transport alternatives.

Concrete proposals

One of the Committee’s main proposals is to improve connectivity between European cities and regions. In this regards, it mentions giving value to long-distance train routes, especially night-trains, since these are the less polluting journeys.

It also highlights the key role of air and maritime transportation for the economic and social cohesion of the EU, especially for its outermost regions. This is why the Committee approves public funding for airlines that are committed to reducing emissions and recommends that this is extended to maritime and road transportation.

Also, the opinion mentions public transport workers, who have experienced lower wages. According to the Committee, financial support is needed to develop a fleet of low-emission vehicles.

Finally, it points at the importance of creating safer infrastructures to promote cycle tourism. In this sense, the Economic Commission adopted in 2021 the 'Pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion'. With the participation of 28 European countries and the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Health Organization, among other organizations.

European Commission strategy

The European Commission has drafted a specific Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy to achieve the European Green Deal, whose main goal is to reduce emissions by 90% by 2050 to make Europe “climatically neutral”.

The Council met in May 2021 to work on a set of Draft Conclusions for this strategy. It includes, for instance, bearing in mind the different starting points of states to reduce their emissions, transitioning to non-polluting vehicles and digitalization focused on improving sustainability, and calls for data gathering on mobility in the EU.

Legislative proposals are already being worked on and everything seems to indicate they will be stricter for cars, vans, lorries and other heavy vehicles. According to the Council, the most sustainable means of transport is the train, and this is why events and campaigns are under way across Europe in 2021 to encourage travelling by train.

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