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GP/OP: OECD Project «Environmentally Sustainable Transport» (EST) – Case Study Environmentally Sustainable Transport for Austria PDF Print E-mail
As a contribution to sustainable development the OECD pursues the goal of applying a new strategic, target-oriented approach to reduce the environmental impacts of transport and to achieve an environmentally sustainable transport system. Corresponding to the three pillars of sustainable development – ecology, economy, social affairs – environmental criteria and these political targets are to be attributed equal importance. For this purpose the international project “Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST)” was initiated within the framework of the OECD working group Transport and Environment, a project in which numerous OECD countries have participated actively.

The cornerstone of the EST approach is the definition of an environmentally sustainable transport system (EST) on the basis of environment and health quality goals and operative targets derived there from on the one hand, and the development of long-term scenarios and the identification of instruments and strategies allowing achieving the goals set on the other hand. Unlike conventional approaches in transport planning the EST project relies on the so-called backcasting approach: The results are not forecasts but alternative perspectives of a sustainable transport system which are examined with respect to their feasibility and impacts.

Within the framework of the four-phase OECD project, case studies are conducted by nine countries. Based on the results gained from the Alps-related pilot project “Environmentally sustainable transport for the Alpine area” carried out jointly by France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland (presented and published within the framework of the international colloquium on sustainable transport in the Alps in the 21st century held in Chambery in January 2000), where the area studied in Austria was limited to the Alpine area as defined in the Alpine Convention, the OECD approach EST has in a follow-up study been applied to all Austria (whole federal territory).

The follow-up project for Austria aims at analysing the long-term options for transport development in Austria and at examining strategies and measures necessary to reach the goal of an environmentally sustainable transport based on the OECD’s EST approach in Austria.

Transport trends are not environmentally sustainable

In the business-as-usual scenario (BAU scenario) or trend scenario modelling indicated a 47% increase in the transport volume in passenger traffic for the period between 1998 and 2030. Particularly high growth rates are expected for automobile traffic (+59%) and air traffic (+167%). The freight traffic volume is supposed to rise by 71% between 1998 and 2030, with a 70% growth expected for road freight traffic and a 65% growth for rail traffic. With 59% road, 34% rail, 5% navigation on the Danube, and 2% air traffic in 2030 the modal split would remain about the same as in 1998.

In the case of BAU about 98 % of the energy demand will still be covered by fossil fuels in 2030. Traffic-related CO2 emissions would grow by approximately 50%. The most significant increases in emissions are expected for road freight traffic and air traffic. The development of greenhouse gas emissions according to BAU represents thus a serious danger to climate especially if it occurs in all countries.

For NOx, which is primarily produced by diesel cars and commercial vehicles, we can expect a trend towards reduction, but will not be able to reach the EST target. Already in the case of BAU VOC emissions drop almost to the level of EST. As opposed to this the targets for particle emissions are missed by about the same rate than those for NOx emissions.

As no data on noise stress are available that cover Austria’s whole federal territory, it was only possible to address the criterion “noise” by means of illustrative examples. Noise caused by traffic had thus to be analysed and assessed on the basis of selected examples from a main thoroughfare in the outskirts of Vienna. The doubling of the traffic volume with an always higher share of lorries expected in the BAU scenario for the period between 1990 and 2030 will cause a rise in the noise level from presently 72 dB(A) to 76 dB(A) during the day and from 63 dB(A) to 66 dB(A) during the night. Already now the existing limits are exceeded in the BAU scenario and exceedances will become even more critical in the future. The share of residents considerably affected by traffic related noise on this road is rising from presently 67% to 83%.

As a result of considerable residential development we must, in the BAU scenario, reckon with a considerable increase in the space required for traffic (development and collective roads). The need for space will however also grow due to the increasing motorisation because additional space for car parking will be needed. If the space required for the parking of additional cars is not provided by means of garages, the area required for parking lots will double between 1990 and 2030.

All in all the calculations for the BAU scenario show that, if the earlier and current trends and tendencies continue, the environment and health quality standards for EST will by far not be met.

Environmentally sustainable transport is feasible, but means a challenge

In the EST scenario it is tried to combine and gradually introduce traffic-controlling and technological measures in such a way that the environment and health quality goals characterising sustainable transport development can be reached until 2030, while at the same time offering a practicable way which is politically feasible.

By using a mixture of different measures it is possible to considerably slow down traffic growth compared with the trend. Provided a marked change in the modal split, a 26% increase (compared with 1998) in the passenger traffic volume until 2030 is possible in the EST scenario (BAU 47%). The volume of automobile traffic can in the EST scenario be stabilised at today’s high level (increase by 5% compared with 1998), its share in the total traffic volume decreases from 64% to 54%, the modal split share of the “ÖV” rises from 25% to 37%.

In the EST scenario, calculations concerning freight traffic rely on the assumption that the gross domestic product (GDP) is decoupled from traffic growth. It will then be possible to slow down the growth compared to the current trend also for freight traffic. All in all, technological and traffic-controlling measures make it possible in the EST scenario to cope with a 51% rise in the freight traffic volume compared with 1998 (BAU 71%); however, also in this case important modal shifts will be necessary. For instance, the share of railway traffic in the modal split must be increased from 35% to 48%, that of the navigation on the Danube from 5% to 9%, with a simultaneous reduction of the share of road traffic from 59% to 43%. Moreover, the volume of road freight traffic could be stabilised at the high level of 1998, or an 8% rise between 1998 and 2030 would be possible, a 106% rise for rail freight traffic.

To be able to reach the reduction of CO2 emissions necessary to achieve the targets, changes in the automobile and motive power technology or in the design of vehicles towards smaller and lighter cars, a reduction of the traffic demand, the shifting of the traffic to more energy-efficient and resource-saving means of transportation, and a more efficient use of vehicles are required.

According to the WHO limits the local noise level in residential areas is not to exceed 55 dB(A) during the day and 45 dB(A) during the night. In the illustrative examples selected in the outskirts of Vienna only a minor traffic growth compared with 1990 is observed in the EST 3 scenario; the opposite is true for the BAU scenario. The following measures have to be taken in order to reduce the noise level in EST: A general speed reduction to 30 km/h in built-up areas, a high share of vehicles with alternative motors (fuel-cell electric vehicles) as well as the use of low-noise tyres. By means of these protective measures it is possible to reduce the noise level in the examples selected to 60 dB(A) during the day and to 50 dB(A) during the night. In the examples studied the share of residents severely affected decreases from 67% to 24% thanks to the noise level reduction. If the limits for EST are to be met fully in these examples the continuous sound level there must be reduced by another 5 dB(A).

The analysis shows that, with the strategies required to reach the EST targets for CO2 and air pollutants, it is not possible to meet the EST criteria for noise in the whole traffic network. To meet the EST criteria for noise fully, more far-reaching measures of traffic control, technology (in particular for the system tyres – road surface) and infrastructure have to be taken. If we want to reach the targets concerning noise abatement it is thus necessary to improve data availability in the field of noise emission and to conduct supplementary and deepening studies. This shows clearly how important it is to work out a country-wide monitoring system of “noise pollution” as well as comprehensive strategies for the reduction of the noise pressure, and to provide for efficient noise abatement systems especially in urban areas and in sensitive Alpine valleys.

In the EST 3 scenario the orientation of the residential development away from unplanned settlement in the open area and towards space-saving settlements (e.g. more compact building) as well as a more efficient combination of different uses must replace mono-structures. Due to the more efficient, space-saving types of settlements the area required for traffic is in the EST 3 scenario lower than in the BAU scenario. As a result of the limited availability of data the EST criterion describing space requirements was examined but roughly and, above all, from the qualitative point of view. Seeing the continuing trend towards unplanned settlement and the increasing suburbanisation with all accompanying dangers for the parts of the city that have developed slowly, for the centres of villages and towns, a deepening analysis and a long-term strategy for a space- and thus also cost-saving residential and infrastructure development appears to be necessary.

According to the considerations concerning the extent of utilisation of the road and rail networks the area needed as a result of the additionally required transport infrastructure will be only negligibly higher in 2030 than it was in 1990 or 1995. The area requirement for 2030 will therefore be lower in the EST scenario than in the BAU scenario.

The project also included an analysis of the economic and social impacts. From the economic point of view pursuing the goal “EST” would probably lead to an insignificant slow-down of the growth of the BIP (from 2.3% per year to 2.2%), but also to a higher rate of employment – unemployment will until 2015 fall by totally 0.5% compared with BAU.

Sustainable transport – an attractive perspective for Austria – environmentally, economically and socially sound

The EST project of the OECD makes clear that it is well possible to achieve even ambitious ecological goals for the transport system within a period of about one generation (30 to 40 years). From the economic point of view positive impulses due to the wide scale of new technologies and mobility services, but also improved chances for regional supply systems can be expected.

Chances concerning mobility are distributed in a more balanced way and it will be possible to improve the ecological soundness of the transport system.

It is possible to stop the existing unsustainable development of transport with its foreseeable negative impacts.

What is needed is an overall strategy with a synergistic combination of measures comprising low-emission vehicles and alternative motive power technologies, further development and attractivation of environmentally friendly forms of transport, mobility management with intelligent mobility services and inter-modal transport logistic. This strategy has to be supplemented by the establishment of fair conditions on the market and by means of economic incentives for sustainable mobility and economy, area planning activities, a siting policy and a residential development preventing unplanned settlement and promoting mixed utilisation, and by an offensive in awareness raising, information and public relations work, as well as for model projects and pilot projects, research and training.

Intensified co-operation is not only needed between the Federal Provinces and the communities and at the European level, but also between the sectors of transport, environment, health, economy, finance and investment policy, traffic planning and spatial planning. The pilot study presented here and carried out within the framework of OECD is to contribute to this goal.

The case study EST Austria was conducted as Austria’s contribution to the OECD project “Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST)”. It was prepared at the request of the BMLFUW by an expert team of Trafico Verkehrsplanung, Vienna, Dr. Romain Molitor, the Institute of National Economy (Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre) of the University of Graz and the Institute for Transport Motor Engines (Institut für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen) of the University of Graz and accompanied by project advisers. The results of the OECD case study have been summarised in a publication of the BMLFUW. The brochure can be ordered from the BMLFUW.

Overall co-ordination and project supervision:
Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management
Div. V/5, Transport, Mobility, Human Settlement and Noise
Mr. Robert Thaler
Stubenbastei 5
A-1010 Vienna

Download Project Document : est-Austria.doc

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EST project case studies conducted by countries in cooperation with OECD

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