Activity: Reducing emissions

Benchmarks for achieving the 60% GHG (greenhouse gas) emission reduction target

Following COP21 Paris Agreement to combat climate change on December 12, 2015, the European Commission remains attached to its previous goals - which are the reduction of GHG (to zero) and air pollution - and aims at acting on better efficiency in transport system. Initial steps were already taken with the review of the White Paper.

White Paper

The White Paper 2011 is a strategic document that defines the objectives and the work programme of the Commission for the forthcoming policies in transport. This strategic document gives ten goals for a competitive and resource efficient transport system, gathered in threekey categories:

  1. Developing and deploying new and sustainable fuels and propulsion systems
  2. Optimising the performance of multimodal logistic chains, including by making greater use of more energy-efficient modes, including modal shift and a fully functional TEN-T core network
  3. Increasing the efficiency of transport and of infrastructure use with information systems and market-based incentives

By 2050, these key goals will include a 50% shift of medium distance freight journeys from road to rail and waterborne transport which will contribute to a 60% cut in transport emissions by the middle of the century. In September 2015, the European Parliament presented its mid-term review on the White Paper for Transport for 2011. The goals for this mid-term review were to:

  • Assess the progress in the implementation of the 2011 White Paper
  • Identify key challenges for transport policy
  • Provide any suggestion for refocusing the strategy in the next years

Following this approach, UIP presented its recommendations to EP Rapporteur Mr Wim Van de Camp and took part in the DG MOVE hearing on 12th November  2015, led by Commissioner Bulc. In July 2016, the European Commission published an implementation report on the White Paper. This report concludes that it is too early for any progress measurements of most of the long-term goals, as in many cases either the relevant indicators still need to be developed or the data are not available. The key role of rail in combating climate change is mentioned explicitly in the Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy by 2050, published on 28th November 2018. To this end, rail must become more attractive and reliable, and reduce its costs.


Following its White Paper objectives and in parallel to actions on more pollutant modes, the Commission, in its action plan for decarbonisation, aims at promoting multi-modality with the following initiatives:

  • A proposal for a Regulation on streamlining measures for swifter implementation of the projects of common interest on the Trans European Transport Network
  • A revision of Regulation 913/2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight (also known as Rail Freight Corridors),and
  • A proposal for the amendment of the Council Directive 92/106/EEC on the establishment of common rules for certain types of Combined Transport of goods between Member States

In December 2018, the majorEuropean rail freight companies came together inthe framework of the COP24 discussions to remindus that rail is the most climate-friendly solution forfreight transport and signed a manifesto to avoid theproduction of nearly 300 million tons of CO2 emissionsover the next decade.Total worldwide rail activity generates less than 5% of energy-related carbon emissions from transport, which shows that rail can also be a key part of the solution to the climate challenge. In this respect, it is to be seen that the 18 members of the Rail Freight Forward Coalitionaim to increase the share of rail in land freight transport to 30% by 2030, thus doubling the volume of rail freight in Europe.

Significance to UIP and our Members

Although wagons are not directly linked to CO2 emissions and air pollution objectives, Keepers are committed to modal shift and enhancement of rail freight services.
Rail Transport has an advantage because it remains the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. However, Rail freight services must become cheaper and reliable and more attractive for the customer. 
Keepers are committed to discuss solutions for two key areas: 1) to reduce costs and 2) wagon innovation.

UIP Documents

Climate Change & Standardisation: a Sector Position Paper - December 2012

EU Documents of interest

The Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy by 2050 - November 2018
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility – July 2016
Commission Staff Working Document on the implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport - July 2016
Implementation Report of the European Parliament on the 2011 White Paper - September 2015
White Paper: Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system - March 2011
Commission Staff Working Document Accompanying the 2011 White Paper - March 2011