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Future-proof GHG and environmental emissions factors for accounting emissions from transport and logistics operations

Proposals should develop a comprehensive set of harmonised emission factors for the transport sector (freight and passenger), covering GHG emissions (CO2 equivalent) of transport and logistics operations. Proposals should address values for the entire transport/logistics chain and take up the full energy lifecycle (Well-To-Wheel/Wake).


Emission factors that relate the amount of GHG emission to the unit of energy consumed (for an energy-based calculation), or to the amount of GHG activity (for an activity-based calculation) are the basis of any GHG calculation.

The increased efforts for measuring effects of climate change in various segments of the transport sector resulted in a range of values developed within the organisational structures of different transport modes, research entities and countries. Some of this work led to legitimate testing and development of the methodologies for the calculation and use of emission factors, or the generation of values that represent fuel specifications for given applications. However, much of it has merely resulted in a proliferation of apparently similar values creating confusion in the marketplace and bearing the risk of selection of sources/values purely on the basis of what is beneficial to the individual entity rather than what is correct.

This problem becomes more important in conjunction with the development of a wide set of technical solutions combating climate change, particularly the new and increasingly complex zero and low carbon energy mixes, including e- and biofuels. These solutions are deployed in the market very often with the support of dedicated financial mechanisms and programs, based on the estimated GHG emission reduction associated with the specific fuel technologies. Not only is it important for the climate impact that the emission calculations are ‘correct’[1], but when dealing with large amounts of transport energy even a small difference over an emission factor value can lead to a significant difference in the associated financial transaction. Without an agreed and validated set of default emission factors for a wide range of the most common energy sources and a mechanism whereby legitimate variations or new energy carriers can be regularly updated, many actions based on calculating GHG emission reduction can be considered to be a risk of conflict and associated legal dispute.

Proposals will have to address all of the following points:

  • Review the existing emission factors derived from the key global sources, duly reflecting the scientific state of the art and ensuring the coverage of new and conventional fuels.
  • Perform the gap analysis and develop emission factors for categories not yet covered, both for upstream and downstream emissions, taking into due consideration new production pathways, and addressing in particular the uncertainty and variation in the well to tank factors to be applied to the new fuels.
  • Establish a clearer set of rules regarding:
    1. Methodology – to ensure that the basis and legitimate use of the two fundamental methodology types (consequential and attributional) are properly understood and applied appropriately.
    2. Boundaries of calculation – to ensure that boundaries are not accidentally or deliberately set in order to favour particular outcomes.
    3. Common sets of fuel / energy specifications – to ensure that data labels and associated values are truly aligned between sources.
    4. Assumptions about input parameters that can result in variations in output values based on local circumstances for specific production.
    5. The basis for new energy carriers to be calculated quickly and consistently in order to avoid delaying the deployment of new, beneficial solutions.

Establish a simple guidance to the transport sector as to which emission factors are the agreed defaults, and why; under what circumstances an alternative can legitimately be used.

The project’s main governance (e.g. Steering Group, Advisory Board) is expected to provide for direct involvement of all relevant stakeholders, as well as relevant European Commission services.

The proposal should build on the existing and emerging EU regulatory frameworks (including Commission’s proposal for the Fit-for-55 package and the new initiative on harmonised measurement of transport and logistics emissions – ‘CountEmissions EU’), GHG emissions accounting standardisation activities (such as the future ISO standard 14083) and other relevant initiatives and projects. Given that emission factors are applied in a global transport market, efforts need to be made to ensure that internationally relevant bodies such as IMO or ICAO are involved alongside prominent European stakeholders.

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Safe, Resilient Transport and Smart Mobility services for passengers and goods (2023/24)

This Destination includes activities addressing safe and smart mobility services for passengers and goods.

Europe needs to manage the transformation of supply-based transport into safe, resilient and sustainable transport and demand-driven, smart mobility services for passengers and goods. Suitable research and innovation will enable significant safety, environmental, economic and social benefits by reducing accidents caused by human error, decreasing traffic congestion, reducing energy consumption and emissions of vehicles, increasing efficiency and productivity of freight transport operations. To succeed in this transformation, Europe’s ageing (and not always sustainable) transport infrastructure needs to be prepared for enabling cleaner and smarter operations.

Europe needs also to maintain a high-level of transport safety for its citizens. Resilience should be built in the transport systems to prevent, mitigate and recover from disruptions. Research and innovation will underpin the three safety pillars: technologies, regulations and human factors.

This Destination contributes to the following Strategic Plan’s Key Strategic Orientations (KSO):

  • C: Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems;
  • A: Promoting an open strategic autonomy[[ ‘Open strategic autonomy’ refers to the term ‘strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy’, as reflected in the conclusions of the European Council 1 – 2 October 2020.]] by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains to accelerate and steer the digital and green transitions through human-centred technologies and innovations.

It covers the following impact areas:

  • Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people;
  • Smart and sustainable transport.

The expected impact, in line with the Strategic Plan, is to contribute to “Safe, seamless, smart, inclusive, resilient and sustainable mobility systems for people and goods thanks to user-centric technologies and services including digital technologies and advanced satellite navigation services”, notably through:

  • Accelerating the implementation of innovative connected, cooperative and automated mobility (CCAM) technologies and systems for passengers and goods (more detailed information below).
  • Further developing a multimodal transport system through sustainable and smart long-haul and urban freight transport and logistics, upgraded and resilient physical and digital infrastructures for smarter vehicles and operations, for optimised system-wide network efficiency (more detailed information below).
  • Drastically decreasing the number of transport accidents, incidents and fatalities towards the EU’s long-term goal of moving close to zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 even in road transportation (Vision Zero) and increase the resilience of transport systems (more detailed information below).

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