21 Dec 2021, 12:31
Edgar Meza

Share of trucks in German road freight transport hits record high

Clean Energy Wire

Despite increasingly ambitious climate targets, truck traffic in Germany reached a record level last year, according to pro-rail group Allianz pro Schiene. The market share of truck cargo in freight transport rose almost one and a half percentage points to 72.6 percent, the NGO said, citing data from the transport ministry (BMDV). At the same time, the share of climate-friendly railways fell from 18.6 to 18 percent. "Never before has the truck share of the freight transport market been so high," said Dirk Flege, head of Allianz pro Schiene. “Freight traffic in Germany is heading in the completely wrong direction. Nowhere are the legacy burdens in climate protection for the new federal government as great as in transport.”

The government has committed itself to expanding the market share of rail in freight transport to 25 percent by 2030, yet the gap between that goal and the current share of rail freight is growing, due in part to the impact of the pandemic, which has exacerbated the problem, the NGO said. CO2 emissions from freight trains, per tonne of goods and kilometre, are a seventh of carbon emissions from trucks, according to figures from the German Environment Agency. Allianz pro Schiene notes that a 25 percent freight rail share is not only possible, but already common in elsewhere in Europe. In Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Finland, rail has a market share of over 25 percent in freight transport. The Baltic states have even higher shares, with up to 70 percent in Latvia, the highest share; 67 percent in Lithuania and 42 percent in Estonia.

Transport is often referred to as the "problem child" of Germany's landmark energy transition. Emissions have remained broadly stable for decades, as gains from more efficient car engines have been eaten up by heavier vehicles. But the country's ambitious CO2-cutting plans mean this must change rapidly: transport emissions need to fall by more than 40 percent this decade, as the country wants to become climate-neutral by 2045.

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