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Committee welcomes Commission's approach to transport emissions

The Economic and Social Committee of the Council of Ministers has published its Opinion on the "Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a Communication on transport and car...
The Economic and Social Committee of the Council of Ministers has published its Opinion on the "Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a Communication on transport and carbon dioxide - developing a Community approach".

The communication is the European Community's first practical response to the Kyoto Conference of 10 December 1997, when a global strategy for curbing pollution was agreed. It aims to curb carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time improving transport efficiency.

The document also fits into the wider context of rationalizing the use of energy resources with a view to maintaining production levels, mobility and quality of life while consuming less energy.

The communication presents two strategies: for the short-to-medium term, and for the long term.

In the short-to-medium term, the Commission is seeking immediate environmental benefits from transport technology, by applying technologies that are currently available, and by promoting new, more environmentally sound, modes of transport.

In the long term, the Commission is looking to introduce new technologies with fuel cells and alternative fuels on a large scale. The policy will depend on far-reaching scientific and technological change, and will need backing from major investment in research.

The Economic and Social Committee has welcomed this Communication and takes the view that respect for the principle of sustainable development requires a shift in the development trend of the transport sector involving a substantial investment of resources. The Committee sees road transport as a logical focus for action as it is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Committee encourages a holistic policy approach based firmly on the search for technologically advanced solutions, such as the use of taxation that, if used in isolation rather than as part of a global approach, could have a negative impact on industry and production.

In conclusion, the Committee underlines that the Community has a definite responsibility for defining the general framework for action, and that direct action must be up to individual Member States. The Committee calls for economic assessments and eco-balance sheets to be kept at Community level, to take account of each initiative. Finally, the Committee says, it would be much easier to draw up an eco-balance sheet if costs were externalized for all modes of transport.

Source: Official Journal of the European Communities

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