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27 Aug 2019, 13:17
Benjamin Wehrmann

Road traffic puts immense financial burden on German society – pro-rail NGO

Clean Energy Wire

The bulk of external costs caused by transport in Germany is due to road traffic, which accounts for 95 percent of total costs, NGO Allianz pro Schiene (Pro Rail Alliance) said. The NGO commissioned a study which found that accidents, climate effects, noise and air pollution taken together for all forms of transport resulted in costs of nearly 150 billion euros per year. "The study demonstrates how urgently the climate cabinet needs to act on transport," said NGO head Dirk Flege, arguing that inaction in the long term would turn out to be much more expensive than implementing a transition in the transport sector. "By shifting traffic to other means of transportation we can improve climate action, air quality and reduce the number of traffic deaths," Flege said. External costs in the study made by Switzerland’s Infras-Institute are all expenses not covered by the travellers themselves and lead to costs for other people, the environment or future generations. After cars, railroad traffic causes the second most external costs, contributing 4 percent of the total, while domestic shipping and air travel account for 1 percent each, the NGO said. The biggest cost factors are accidents (41 percent), followed by vehicle and electricity production (21 percent) and climate effects (18 percent). According to the study, one kilometre driven with an average car results in costs of about 11 euro cents.

The transport sector in Germany is under immense pressure to improve its contribution to emission reduction, which has been near non-existent since 1990. Failure to achieve progress in reducing the sector's CO2 footprint could lead to Germany having to pay billions of euros in fines for missing emissions goals in the sectors not covered by the European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS).

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